Pennine Care staff share mental health best practice in Belarus

In November, Kay Harvey, Consultant Child Psychiatrist and Sally Trowse, ADHD Clinical Nurse Specialist, visited Belarus to share their skills, knowledge and experience with health colleagues.

They were asked by the Chernobyl Children's Project UK (CCP-UK) to deliver training around supporting teenagers who have autism, ADHD and mental health difficulties, such as eating disorders and self-harm.  

Brief background

When the Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986, radioactive materials were released into the atmosphere. Seventy per cent of the radioactive fallout landed in Belarus. This has led to increased rates of physical disabilities, learning disabilities and mental health difficulties in children.

Chernobyl Children’s Project UK (CCP-UK) supports children, families and young people in Belarus.  Much of the CCP-UK’s work focuses on promoting integration of children with physical disabilities into schools and improving the educational and social opportunities for children and young people with disabilities. 

Pennine Care has nurtured an excellent relationship with CCP-UK and a number of staff have provided training through the charity.  In October a psychiatrist and psychologist from Minsk visited Manchester for one week to see some of Pennine Care’s services and how they support people.

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Summary of visit

Kay and Sally spent a week in Gomel, Belarus' second largest city, visiting schools and the children’s psychiatric hospital.  They also delivered three days of training to a group of doctors, psychologists and speech and language therapists.

The main challenges highlighted were the lack of multi-agency working between health, social care and education; and the stigma related to mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

The CCP-UK hopes to raise awareness of multi-disciplinary working with children in the community to improve assessment, diagnosis and support provided. The hope is to achieve this via working with all levels of the health service, from government departments down to frontline clinical staff.

Belarus 4Sally and Kay said: “We had an absolutely amazing week. The training went well and we met some truly inspiring people.

“Belarus is a beautiful country. We were extremely lucky to be able to visit two special schools for children with learning disabilities and physical disabilities and the local children’s psychiatric unit.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to Anna Koretskaya, our translator, who accompanied us all week. She spent hours translating all our presentations into Russian and worked hard translating for us every day.

“We’re also extremely grateful to Linda at CCP-UK and to our Pennine Care colleagues for allowing this visit to take place.

“All the people we met were extremely polite and hospitable and made us feel very welcome. We would like to return one day and help support the charity in its ongoing work.”

For more information about the charity, various projects and how to donate please visit: www.chernobyl-children.org.uk