Self-help Program

Since 1998 Armenian Mental Health Foundation with financial and technical support of British Hamlet Trust charity started the process of assisstance to users and ex-users of mental health services in creation of self-help groups. The series of projects aimed to challenge and assist users and ex users in starting self-help groups and own NGO-s.

We prepared and printed brochures "Self help in Mental Health","How to Start NGO" and “NGO-s and Mental Health Reforms”. We form 4 groups of users and ex-users in Yerevan, Gyumry and Vanadzor and held a series of seminars and workshops on Self-Help Groups and Organizations in Mental Health for those groups. It was innovative project for Armenia. The process of involvement of users is a complicated process in any country by definition. At the same time the results were encouraging and we continue our joint efforts. The most active group was formed in Vanadzor. It was difficult to imagine during first meetings that the process will develop that fast. The seed of the group was formed and without external support group start to act. Key role in that process was played by Dr. Gayane Kalantaryan, Director of Lory Regional Psychiatric Hospital, Board Member of Armenian Mental Health Foundation. She provide group with room and gathering place, telephone and other necessities and encouraged the activities. It should be mentioned that Lory Regional Psychiatric Hospital, located in Vanadzor is probably the best in the country not only with the logistic arrangements, but also by the attitude of personnel. And this is Dr. Kalantaryan who succeed to reach this. Probably this is one of the reasons why she was elected in 1999 to Vanadzor City Hall. Members of self-help groups start to participate in different meetings, seminars and training events. In 1998-1999 they have participated in Advocacy Training. In October 1999 co-ordinator of the group participated in regional training event in Krakow, Poland organized by The Hamlet Trust where he has a unique possibility to meet colleagues from all over the region and share the ideas and experience. In 1999-2000 three members of the group participated in series of residential seminars in Tsakhkadzor. Then more, Tepla event, Caucasian Advocacy Training, local conferences...

Since 1999 The Hamlet Trust generously extended its support and provide additional funding for establishment of Contact Point for self help group outside the hospital. At the moment in the very central avenue of Vanadzor (former Lenin Avenue) everyday people are gatherng together just to talk, to share, to be at home. Armenian adapted version of Getting Started will be published and memebrs of self-help groups will have possibility to share their experience with colleagues in other cities of Armenia.

The main result of the project are the groups of users and ex-users in major cities of our country, which can become the basis of users organization in Armenia.

In 2001 City council of Vanadzor provide Armneian Mental Health Foundation with facility for establishmnet of country council centre.