Vilnius Crisis Center
After several months of preparations and with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Brothers’ Brother Foundation (BBF), FGIP and the Vilnius Mental Health Center established a crisis center for Ukrainian and Belarussian refugees in August 2022. Initially, we hired two psychiatrists from Mariopol and one nurse from Zhitomyr. The role of the Vilnius Psychotrauma Center is to provide specialized mental health care support to Ukrainian and Belarusian refugee communities in Lithuania (currently approximately 80,000 and 48,000 persons respectively), and to function as an interface between these communities and regular mental health care services.
We reached an agreement with the hospital so that FGIP would cover costs of salaries plus related expenses, while all expenses related to the premises would be covered by the hospital. The hospital also organized Lithuanian language courses, helped with initiating the process of medical registration in Lithuania, and added a part-time Lithuanian psychiatrist to supervise his Ukrainian colleagues and prescribe medication (Ukrainian doctors are not allowed to do so according to EU regulations).
For the center, the former Director’s office was refurbished, which resulted in three rooms, two for consultations and one for administration. All staff members were hired by the Vilnius Mental Health Center. FGIP covers costs of salaries plus related expenses, while all expenses related to the premises are covered by the hospital. The hospital also organized Lithuanian language courses, helped with initiating the process of medical registration in Lithuania, and added a part-time Lithuanian psychiatrist to supervise his Ukrainian colleagues and prescribe medication (Ukrainian doctors are not allowed to do so according to EU regulations).
In March 2023, we hired two more staff members: a Ukrainian psychiatrist from Kramatorsk, who took over from the adult psychiatrist from Mariopol who went on a 4-6 month maternity leave; and a Belarusian psychiatrist from Minsk who is expected to concentrate on a significant number of Belarusian clients (mostly victims of State repression and political refugees).
As of May 2023, the newly hired psychiatrist, Olesya Morozova (originally from Kramatorsk) also consults the two rehabilitation centers for military in Lithuania, which provide rehabilitation to Ukrainian military but do not have a psychological support program.
The total cost of this program was 157.467 euro ( = $ 168,614)
In the coming months, we expect the number of clients to rise, partially because the prospect of the war coming to a rapid end is increasingly dim, partially because a “war fatigue” is noticeable and the enormous humanitarian effort to welcome Ukrainians and make them feel at home is subsiding, and partially because our center is becoming increasingly known among the refugee communities.
Because the current premises are temporary, a solution had to be found for an alternative. The International Office of Migration agreed to finance the construction of “temporary premises”, being a container office with a guaranteed life-span of thirty years. The new premises will give us six consultation rooms, a reception, and a kitchen and toilet block.
In conclusion, over the last 12 months, FGIP developed a multifaceted program designed to address the complex needs of refugees, internally displaced people, veterans and their direct environment, and mental health workers. We are planning to continue our efforts and dynamically adjust them to the unfortunate realities of the war and the needs for mental health support of the Ukrainian people.