Well-U: Improving the mental health and psychosocial well-being of Ukrainian refugee children and their caregivers

By training lay professionals to use various methodologies, the Well-U project aims to enhance the mental health and psychosocial well-being of hundreds of refugee children and their caregivers, especially those displaced by the war on Ukraine.

Migrants are exposed to a higher incidence of mental health distress because of the adverse experiences they might have faced prior, during or after their migration process. The situation of refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine is confirming this tendency. Yet, public health systems are too often ill-equipped, both in terms of capacities and resources, to meet these needs.

Hence, the Well-U project proposes universal and indicated preventative mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) measures that, by relying on task-shifting, can be carried out by lay professionals, including local organisations working with refugees/Ukraine's displaced children, teachers, educators, cultural mediators, health and social workers, staff working in reception centres, peer refugees themselves, instead of involving specialised mental health professionals. This will result in interventions being more accessible, less expensive and more integrated within the current life circumstances of individuals, at the same time reducing the burden on mental health specialised institutions.

The project will adapt, contextualise and implement the ReachNow tool as well as the TeamUp, the Movement, Games, Sports and Creativity (MGSC) and the Problem Management Plus (PM+) interventions to support refugee children and their caregivers, as particularly vulnerable populations, in Italy, Greece, Hungary and Romania.

This will provide the basis to collect and disseminate best practices, knowledge and training materials through an online Community of Practice aiming to connect and support practitioners from all over Europe that deal with migrants and refugees, especially those displaced because of the Ukrainian conflict. 

The project aims to conduct 18 trainings and train at least 270 lay professionals, including peer refugees to ensure sustainability, reach about 780 beneficiaries, and animate a community of practice to support everyone who is promoting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of migrant and refugee populations.

The project is coordinated by SOS Children's Villages Italy and implemented in partnership with Terre des hommes Hellas, Terre des hommes Hungary, Terre des hommes Romania, War Child Holland, and SOS Children's Villages International.