Awards for best new mental health programmes
Awards given to the best community mental health programmes in the ‘Healthy Generation’ contest
Amongst the winners were NGO-run prevention programmes in the field of child and adolescent mental health involving pensioners, art historians, circus staff and Russian sign language specialists. The winners will receive grants ranging from 200,000 to one million roubles.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 20% of children and adolescents worldwide suffer from a mental illness, around half of which develop by the age of 14. One of the most acute social consequences of mental health disorders is teenage suicide, with Russian rates the highest in Europe. Between February and April 2015, the independent non-profit organisation Union for the Protection of Mental Health held the ‘Healthy Generation’ contest with the aim of developing innovative approaches in the field of mental health protection for children and adolescents in Russia.
The first area of the contest was dedicated to interactive prevention programmes implemented by young people with the support of professional psychologists. Recognised as the best in this field were scientific research centre-developed projects in which young volunteer psychologists receive specialist training to work with their peers. Prospective young psychologists must have an active lifestyle and strong communication skills. Psychiatrists believe that peer to peer work amongst adolescents may be significantly more effective in preventing mental health disorders.
The other two areas of the contest covered prevention programmes involving older people and those providing socially beneficial employment to children and teenagers.
As part of the project ‘The 21st Century Little Prince’, the Ulyanovsk branch of the Russia-wide Union of Russian Pensioners organised a public museum dedicated to the Great Patriotic War, a creative studio, and social theatre, where young people from the ‘street environment’ act out topical and acute situations from the life of young people. There are currently ten retired volunteers participating in the project.
The Janusz Korczak Foundation attracts leading art historians from the Tretyakov gallery, Pushkin museum and the Moscow Kremlin museum to work with difficult teenagers.
Experienced Russian sign language specialists from the Kaluga branch of the nationwide All-Russian Society of the Deaf (FOG) developed the ‘Gentle Hands’ project to help young people to improve their sign language ability and prepare for the Unified State Exam. Yulia Morozova, a specialist at the Kaluga branch of FOG pointed out that children and adolescents with hearing impairments find themselves in a particularly vulnerable psychological situation in schools. The stressful atmosphere of exam preparation is often exacerbated by the failure to adjust teaching methods to the needs of the hearing impaired. Therefore one of the most important objectives of the project is the provision of psychological support to students with limited hearing, aiming to prevent nervousness and increase interest in life. For quick-tempered and aggressive students FOG plans to organise work in sports clubs.
Author: Dmitri Petrov