Olena Zelenska talks mental health in Ukrainian schools on first day back to classes

1 September, 03:55 PM
Olena Zelenska spoke about the first lesson in Ukrainian schools (Photo:@olenazelenska_official/Instagram)

Olena Zelenska spoke about the first lesson in Ukrainian schools (Photo:@olenazelenska_official/Instagram)

As the new academic year commences in Ukraine, overshadowed by Russia’s ongoing aggression on the country, Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, took the opportunity to shed light on a significant classroom event that occurred on Sept. 1.

As is traditional, Ukrainian students returned to classes today, which is why Sept.1 is marked as ‘Knowledge Day’ in Ukraine. To mark the occasion, the First Lady shared details of a novel Ukrainian communication initiative called “How Are You?” on her social media platforms.

“The question ‘How Are You?’ is one that merits asking each student and educator embarking on this new school year, which, to be candid, is unlikely to be any less challenging than the last one,” Zelenska said.

Video of day

“Learning becomes an immensely daunting task when the sound of an air raid siren replaces the customary school bell. Teaching becomes exceptionally demanding when one’s responsibilities include not only sharing knowledge, but also ensuring the safety of children from rocket attacks – all while maintaining composure,” she noted.

Zelenska underscored the significance of measures aimed at stabilizing emotional well-being to enable uninterrupted learning and teaching, which is why the first lesson of the year in Ukrainian schools was dedicated to mental health.

“The weight that children’s minds bear due to the Russian invasion necessitates a sincere and yet compassionate dialogue, involving both students and parents. For students in grades 1-5, this conversation was conducted in video format by psychologist Svitlana Royz. For older students, psychologists Kateryna Timakina and Iliya Yelisey Kastornykh led the discussion,” explained the First Lady.

The special lesson tackled questions such as “How do emotions help and hurt us? How can we regain a sense of security and control over our situation?”

The mental health lesson conducted in schools is also accessible on the Megogo streaming service platform.

“If we educate children on self-care, self-awareness, and self-understanding, it will equip them with resilience for life. If we all acquire this knowledge, it will bolster the resilience of the entire nation. Because only an aware and well-balanced individual can safeguard themselves and others,” added the First Lady.

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