The Department of Clinical Psychology of the Ukrainian Catholic University is opening Ukraine’s first master’s program to prepare experts in mental health for organizations, which will be able to raise the productivity of workers’ work through improving workers’ psychological welfare and their mental health.
“In Ukraine there is a slightly illusory image of psychologists in organizations. Mostly, businesses hire a psychologist but, finally, they do not understand what competencies they should master. Another problem is that there are no programs which would completely prepare experts for work in the sphere of mental health in organizations. So often psychologists do not know, on the one hand, the problems of organizations, organizational development, business processes, and some don’t think ‘this comes under their territory.’ On the other hand, perhaps paradoxically, they are not involved in the theme of mental health and methods to improve it. We want our future graduates to learn not only to help leaders create policies in the sphere of supporting workers’ mental health, but also to develop the ability to convince them, on the basis of evidence, that their work is necessary and important. Mental health problems can be managed in organizations through direct interventions and also in changes in the system of organizing work. Benefitting from this will be employers, and also workers. For the productivity of a worker’s work very much depends on how he or she feels,” admits Vitalii Klymchuk, acting director of UCU’s Institute of Mental Health and head of the master’s program Mental Health in Organizations.
In general, 16% of people in the world have mental health problems. According to official statistics, 1.7 million Ukrainians in 2016 sought psychiatric help. The number of those who did not seek help but have problems is a few times greater. In addition, among people with mental health problems, 60-70% work in organizations. Of those, 45% are absent from work because of health problems. In England, because of depression workers missed a total 100 million days of work, costing the country 9 billion pounds sterling. It is interesting that the majority of mental health problems can be treated with the help of proven methods of psychotherapy with an effectiveness of 40-80%.
Abroad, a statistic like this would lead to the creation of a number of programs to foster mental health in the work place and the creation of educational programs for specialists in mental health in organizations. So in London they have a specialization “organizational psychiatry.” UCU’s Institute of Mental Health and Department of Clinical Psychology conducted a survey among 53 employers on whether Ukraine needs this kind of specialist and a majority, 88.7%, said yes.
The diagnosis of mental health problems with the help of effective and dependable instruments, the promotion of mental health and prevention of problems, concern about the psychological welfare and climate in a company, influence on the growth of productivity of the work of co-workers and the general effectiveness of an organization, and providing basic psychological help for the most widely-spread problems are the basic competencies that will be gained by future specialists in mental health in the Mental Health in Organizations Master’s Program.
Applicants to the program can be not only psychologists but also other specialists who want to specialize in the problem of mental health in organizations. The program can be especially productive for those who are already working as psychologists in organizations. The specifics of their companies will be taken into account during the development of the students’ individual learning plans.
The duration of study is 1 year and 10 months.
Upon completion of the program, a state-accredited master’s diploma in psychology with the specialization Mental Health in Organizations is received. The courses are in modules (only five classroom days per month. Other educational activities are in the form of distance learning, but there is also a month of residence and work.)
The program was developed on the basis of and with the consultative support of specialists of a similar educational project which is run at King’s College, London.
“The appearance in organizations of specialists in mental health might sound fairly strange to our mentality, for the theme of mental health is stigmatized. It’s necessary to have a revolution in the awareness of employers. Right now society is more focused on removing the consequences of psychological problems than on preventing them or fostering psychological welfare. It’s important to change the paradigm of accepting mental health. To be concerned about quality of life, the psychological climate, to foster a corporate culture, but not to concentrate on sickness,” states Oleh Romanchuk, director of UCU’s Institute of Mental Health.
We recall that the Department of Clinical Psychology already offers a master’s program in clinical psychology based on cognitive behavioral therapy on the British model, in which students can acquire basic skills in consulting with people and self-help.