Ceremonial opening of the Center for first psychological aid and psychosocial support of the Red Cross of RNM
It gives me special pleasure to be able to address you on behalf of the Red Cross at today’s event which opens a new chapter in the work of our organization with the hope of future cooperation and partnership with many stakeholders in the country, which would make a positive step in satisfying psychosocial needs of different target categories of the population.
Crisis, natural disasters, conflicts, poverty and economic challenges that are part of the daily lives of people around the world, leave serious psychosocial consequences on the population. It should be noted here that health is primarily a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of disease and exhaustion. Without mental health, there is no health at all. Unfortunately, we often put mental health aside and do not see it as a priority.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent through their activities provide support to the affected population in the form of humanitarian aid, shelter and basic health care, but one of the important segments of assistance is the provision of first psychological assistance and comprehensive psychosocial support. Emotional wounds may be less visible than the destruction of homes, but it often takes much longer for people to recover emotionally than to overcome material losses.
Psychological first aid and psychosocial support is an integral part of the Red Cross emergency response to help people and communities recover from psychological consequences and rebuild social structures after a crisis. Timely and appropriate psychosocial support can prevent anxiety and suffering from escalating into more serious consequences. It helps people to better cope with everyday life, i.e. to enjoy health and quality of life and to realize their full potential in work, education and social life.
A recent challenge that has affected all segments of our lives, and which we still face, is the global pandemic with COVID-19. In 2020, according to the WHO report, the percentage of mental illness was expected to increase to 40% of the population in Europe, with almost 165 million people suffering from brain disorders each year, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia. The development and consequences of it undoubtedly stressed the need for additional efforts to support and care for the preservation of mental health.
I am especially glad that finally with the support of our partners Austrian Development Agency and the Austrian Red Cross as well as the institutions in the country, and thanks to our experience from practice and lessons learned, today we realize the idea of opening a Center for first aid and psychosocial support of the Red Cross of RNM.
The center will aim to provide long-term support for civic and national capacity building to provide psychosocial support to different target groups. The center will also provide psychosocial assistance and support to all citizens as well as to volunteers, employees and all beneficiaries of the services of the Red Cross of RNM.
The center will aim to establish and develop new methods that will be based on strong cross-sectorial cooperation between institutions, families, schools, employers and health professionals, as well as all other stakeholders within the crisis management system of the country, which will contribute to a more comprehensive response in the field of providing psychosocial support to people affected by crisis situations.
We are especially pleased with the fact that through the activities of the Center we will make a special contribution in providing systematic support and assistance to the population to preserve mental health in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy for overcoming the stigma for promoting open conversation about mental health and seeking psychological support in case of need, as well as supporting vulnerable target groups.
One of our priorities in the next period will be the establishment of a National Body for Policy and Strategy Building, composed of representatives of institutions, experts – members of the Chamber of Psychologists, psychiatrists, social and health professionals, and representatives of the civil sector. The National Policy and Strategy Building Body aims to comprehensively build, implement, and strengthen the system model for psychosocial support, through the implementation of an action plan in peacetime based on previous knowledge and experience, and its rapid and effective adaptation in times of crisis. . ”
We will work on initiating and promoting advocacy efforts to upgrade the positive legal solutions in the field of psychosocial support as a segment of timely comprehensive planning when acting in conditions of crisis, emergency or war.
Finally, let me express my sincere gratitude for your support in opening the Center for First Psychological Assistance and Psychosocial Support of the Red Cross of RNM. I hope that this is the beginning of a fruitful cooperation that on a long-term basis will enable a better and healthier life of our fellow citizens.