"Being able to listen, having a true interest in what other people are saying" - mental health experts reflect on their work in refugee-receiving countries

“An emergency makes you forget everything you were taught about how health care is delivered,” says Rut Erdelyiova, a mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) consultant working in Slovakia. “It's no longer that sterile environment where you know what you need to deliver. It’s about going out there to meet people who just experienced something that completely reshaped their realities, trying to understand how they’re feeling and what we can do for them in that situation.” 

Rut is one of a small but driven team of WHO/Europe experts who have devoted most of their waking hours since the start of the war in Ukraine to coordinating MHPSS activities, which are critical for alleviating suffering and preventing long-term impacts on mental health, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. 

WHO/Europe’s coordination of this group of experts enabled the real-time exchange of essential information and mutual support and learning. They shared their experiences on a wider scale, including at a high-level consultation in Bratislava, Slovakia on 18–19 April 2023.