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VU and WHO launch mental health app for Ukrainians

5 December 2022
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has launched a digital self-help tool for Ukrainians in collaboration with the WHO. The self-help tool ‘Doing What Matters in Times of Stress’ is available in Ukrainian and is designed to support Ukrainians, in their own country and abroad.

The app guides the user through different steps and exercises to help them alleviate symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. The exercises also aim to build social support and resilience. VU professor and initiator Marit Sijbrandij: “The tool contains information and exercises, supported by text and audio files. People can access it by creating a user name and password.”

This new app is based on the evidence-based Self-Help Plus programme from the WHO. This programme  is based on ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ (ACT), a modern form of cognitive-behavioural therapy, with a strong focus on mindfulness practices. VU researcher Iryna Frankova: “Previous research has indicated that this programme is effective in preventing psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety among refugees in Europe.” The programme addresses both psychological problems (stress, fear, feelings of helplessness) and more practical problems (livelihood problems, conflict in the family, etc.).

A first step

The tool is meant as a first step before scaling up to more intensive forms of care if required. No personal data will be collected in the app. The app can be downloaded via