iFightDepression – a free psychoeducational tool for working with refugees

Are you a mental health specialist? Do you work with refugees from Ukraine on a daily basis? Or maybe you know institutions and organizations that offer them psychological support? If so, you may be interested in the free iFightDepression tool. This is a set of specialist, clinically tested workshops from the European Commission’s catalog of best practices. All of them are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, available free of charge in Ukrainian, Russian, English.

Join the group of 400 mental health professionals who use iFightDepression

Over the last year, 400 mental health specialists have implemented MHPSS tool.iFightDepression.com workshops into their clinical practice. That’s more than one new tool guide per day. Online exercises for dealing with depression symptoms, known in Europe, were financed by the European Commission.

Mental Health Support for Ukrainian Refugees (MESUR)

The workshops were already available in Poland, but interest in them increased significantly after the refugee crisis in our country and the launch of the Mental Health Support for Ukrainian Refugees (MESUR) aid program. It has been found that it is difficult for mental health professionals to support patients in their recovery process if they do not speak their native language. The tool turned out to be helpful, as it allowed the use of specialized exercises available not only in Polish, but also in Ukrainian or Russian.

It is worth emphasizing that iFightDepression is intended for independent work, but access to the platform is provided by a psychologist, psychotherapist, doctor, crisis interventionist or recovery assistant. The tool.iFightDepression.com tool, like the iFightDepression.com website, falls into a category known as MHPSS, or “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.”

Detect symptoms of depression – free self-test

In many countries, standard questionnaire tests detecting symptoms of depression are available in almost every clinic, but unfortunately not in Poland. The European Commission financed the creation of such a questionnaire in Ukrainian and Russian. When visiting a general practitioner for any other matter, the patient may have a completed form with him in the waiting room, which the doctor will interpret during the visit. If the questionnaire suggests depression, the family doctor may use this information in the diagnostic process and possibly initiate treatment or recommend the patient to visit other specialists.

Before such a practice becomes standard in Poland, we can already use a free, publicly available tool. Some people go to the website and complete the PHQ-9 depression self-test on someone else’s behalf. In this way, they do not participate in the digital workshop. Only an MHPSS specialist gives access to free workshops. The iFightDepression tool is based on content from cognitive-behavioral therapy, which in Europe is listed in national guidelines for the treatment of depression as a basic pillar of treatment, alongside psychopharmacotherapy. Therefore, in Poland, licensed psychotherapists from the Polish Society of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy were first interested in the tool.

screen iFightDepression

iFightDepression – workshops available

What does iFightDepression offer? A set of workshops, detailed descriptions of which can be found below.

  • Workshops 1 and 3 teach behavioral activation techniques using an activity diary and exercises in planning positive actions in advance. Their goal is to help patients become more active and intentionally take positive actions.
  • Workshop 2 addresses sleep disorders often associated with depression, which have been shown to be alleviated by digital intervention.
  • Workshop 4 trains users in problem solving and allows them to break down a large task into manageable sub-steps.
  • Workshops 5 and 6 focus on negative beliefs and acquiring alternative thinking patterns. This is classic CBT content, and although the benefits of using this technique alone have not been proven beyond any doubt, its effectiveness when used in combination with other methods described is considered to be well established.
  • Workshop 7 (additional) for adults covers a healthy lifestyle and managing depression in the workplace.
  • Workshop 8 (additional) for youth covers social anxiety and bonding.
  • Workshops 9 and 11 (additional) are intended for people with refugee experience. They support them in dealing with trauma, mourning and building mental resilience.

Psychoeducation at school

iFightDepression does not replace treatment, but can accompany recovery. The use of this psychoeducational tool is constantly expanding. Among people encouraged to use iFightDepression are teachers and pedagogues. The reason is the prolonged difficult situation of Ukrainian students studying in Poland and the non-diminishing mental health crisis already reflected in Polish schools. The tool can be switched from Polish to Ukrainian, English and other languages. The program helps teachers talk about students’ difficulties. It can be useful in everyday work for those who want to actively respond to the manifestations of mental health crisis in their environment and promote the health of students. iFightDepression can also be used as an element of prevention in school psychology and pedagogical offices.

The article was based on information provided by the Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Pedagogy in Warsaw.