The Russian aggression and the consequent war against Ukraine has – as it has all people in Ukraine – also heavily impacted the community of people who use drugs. Among the people that stayed in their home towns and cities and among the many displaced people in the country there are people who use drugs.
Harm reduction services have been adapted to focus more on first survival needs, but still manage to operate services, in particular in the Western part of the country. Drug use patterns have shifted, with more people now using meth-amphetamines, often by means of injection. The needs of people who use drugs are many, but center more and more around (acute) mental health needs. In the context of conflict, high insecurity, violence, trauma and a focus on survival, the harm reduction services in Ukraine are looking for new ways to support their beneficiaries.
Community mental health responses
Since 2019 Mainline has worked intensively with people who use meth-amphetamines in Vietnam. We have worked on a set of harm reduction interventions that fit the needs of people who use stimulant drugs. One important component to the services is a community mental health response. The need for a bottom-up, pragmatic approach was born in a setting where people have almost no access to a formal system of mental health support. Outreach workers have thus been trained in recognizing acute and chronic mental health needs and in offering first mental health responses.
Mainline now works with the Alliance for Public Health in Ukraine to see if the method we designed could be valuable in a high-conflict area such as Ukraine. For this assignment, we will adapt our community mental health e-course to the Ukrainian context and translate the various modules in Ukrainian and Russian. We hope to have these versions ready by the summer of 2024.
You can request more information about this project via Ancella Voets.