Project report: YCF Next, Ukraine

“Hospital is not a prison”

Grantee: YCF NEXT, Odesa, Ukraine 
Project: Using hospital facilities to assist children with mental disorders, especially eating disorders 

The project was based at the Odesa Regional Children’s Psychiatric Hospital. The direct beneficiaries were children and adolescents aged 6-18 years who were patients in the hospital. Their parents, initially subsidiary beneficiaries, in practice became direct participants in the project. As a result of the project, we managed to draw attention to an issue that is very topical in our society, despite the fact that most people are unaware of its seriousness – namely the problem of eating disorders in young people. Many parents think this is just a whim, and even use physical force to try to make their children eat, without understanding what consequences this might have. 30% (42) of parents have continued to consult the project’s psychologist after their child has been discharged, and 20% (24) of parents recommended the project’s psychologist to other parents whose children had not been referred to the hospital but had various issues: eating disorders connected with being quarantined (locked down), having to study online, or illness or death of a relative from COVID 19. 

During the course of the project we worked with 164 individuals. Our psychologist and art therapist worked with the children from noon until 6pm, five days a week. This included exercises to promote self-care and personal hygiene, small motor movements, creative exercises, and sport. The psychologist tested any changes in the children’s emotional state.  

The project “Hospital is not a prison” demonstrated its relevance to an even greater extent than we expected and showed that the work of the centre really needs to continue. On 22 December, we and the hospital managers opened a day centre for art therapy for children having treatment at the hospital, with a consulting room for parents.  

The project’s stakeholders and partners have accepted the link between eating disorders and violence and are looking into cooperation on these issues. We are exploring funding options for research to develop an evidence base to establish preventative programmes. 


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