FGIP and Ukraine - a brief historical overview
The Global Initiative on Psychiatry (GIP; now officially: Human Rights in Mental Health-Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry) is a Netherlands-based international NGO with the longest track record in mental health in Ukraine. Initially founded in 1980, it coordinated the international campaigns against the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR, of which many of the victims were from Ukraine. It campaigned for their release, as well as for the release of opponents of this perversion of psychiatry, including two Ukraine-based psychiatrists.
In 1990 GIP became involved in the first attempts to change Ukrainian psychiatry from an outdated Soviet institutional and biologically oriented psychiatric care system to more modern approaches. It helped establish the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association (UPA) in early 1991, and subsequently the founding of relative organizations, an association of psychiatric nurses and the first consumer movement. It organized NGO-building trainings, and supported the NGO-sector both materially and through training.
In the years 1991-1993 it transported more than three thousand cubic meters of humanitarian aid to psychiatric hospitals with trucks, Fokker airplanes of the Dutch Air Force and eventually twelve IL-76 cargo planes of the Ukrainian Air Force. In 1995 it established, together with the UPA, the publishing house Sphere, which in the course of the next decade translated and printed 139 manuals, books and reports on modern mental health care delivery, ethics, law and human rights.
From early on, GIP organized trainings for Ukrainian mental health professionals. It helped develop a curriculum in social work, developed the first training program for psychiatric nursing and set up the first Center for Psychosocial Rehabilitation in Ukraine, which functioned until 2022. Hundreds of Ukrainian mental health professionals participated in training seminars of the Network of Reformers in Psychiatry during the years 1994-2004, in mental health nursing, psychogeriatrics, alcohol- and drug-addiction, child psychiatry and community mental health care services. In 1994 GIP was one of the founders of the Kyiv-based Medical Treatment Center for Victims of Totalitarianism and Civil Wars (MRC), that continues to function until today.
Following Maidan in 2014, FGIP carried out more than half a dozen assessments of social care homes, prison mental health care services, and forensic psychiatry in Ukraine together with the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada and the Ministry of Social Affairs. With the latter a five-year reform plan for social care homes was developed and with the Ministry of Justice a reform plan was agreed upon regarding the prison mental health care sector. During the COVID-19 pandemic it supplied up top ninety mental health institutions with Personal Protection Equipment and instructions how to avoid infection.
Since the February 2022 invasion FGIP is actively involved in providing humanitarian aid to mental health institutions, including large-sized generators to allow institutions to continue their care for patients. In addition it manages a web- and social-media based psychological aid program to the Ukrainian population which has attracted tens of millions of views and includes a well-used web-based resource on psychological support. It also founded a crisis center for Ukrainian refuges in Vilnius (Lithuania).