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UNDP TURKMENISTAN LAUNCHES AN ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORM FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

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undp mental health supportOn 8th February, 2024 UNDP Turkmenistan, jointly with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of Turkmenistan (MLSP) launched an online learning platform for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). The program was funded by the Joint UNDP-DPPA Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention.

The online course aims to assist service providers – social workers, educators, law enforcement officers, representatives of civil society organizations, and women and youth leaders – in offering psychosocial support to youth and women in Turkmenistan.

The 20-hour, self-paced course is open to the public and can be taken in three languages, English, Turkmen, and Russian. The training guidelines, manual and participant’s workbook for in-person training are also available in all three languages for downloading free of charge.

This is the first mental health support program available online in Turkmenistan. The government is indirectly accepting the need for mental health and psychosocial support. There is no research and data on the needs of the target group and service providers.

Questions

As of March 10th, the information about the new program can be found and utilized only on the UNDP Turkmenistan’s website and no information about it is mentioned on the websites of the Health Ministry or Ministry of Labor.

There is also no information about further dissemination of the resource as well as measuring its impact: How is it going to reach service providers? Is it going to be mandatory training for them? Can all women and youth benefit from it or does it target specific groups? Will there be monitoring and research in place to make sure that the program is serving its purpose?

As the first online resource of its kind, the MHPSS program contributes to filling the gap in the area of mental health support in Turkmenistan. Its availability in three languages makes it accessible to a wide range of audience and users. However, since the internet is slow, expensive and the internet literacy is low in the country, those who could benefit from it the most may not be able to take the course or download the training materials. The lack of public messaging and campaigning among the ministries and government agencies can also hinder its potential to reach the public. It is mentioned in the news that the MHPSS ToT materials were developed by a UNDP expert and mental health specialist. To tailor the program to the particularities of the local culture and community, it would have been optimal if there were a collaboration with local experts and civil society.

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