Turkmenistan celebrates World Mental Health Day with first-of-its-kind conference


On 10 October 2018, Turkmenistan celebrated World Mental Health Day with a conference focused on the prevention and treatment of mental disorders, bringing together psychiatrists and family doctors from all regions of the country.

The conference, organized with the support of the WHO Country Office, was a first-of-its-kind event in Turkmenistan, and comes following the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan approving the Strategy and Action Plan on Mental Health for 2018–2022 in July this year.

In her welcoming speech, Dr Paulina Karwowska, WHO Representative and Head of the Country Office in Turkmenistan, emphasized the importance of the Strategy and Action Plan: "[The approval] is a good start towards achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to reduce premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by a third by 2030, through prevention and treatment, and for the promotion of mental health and well-being”.

A specialist from the WHO Country Office presented on the theme “Young people and mental health in a changing world”, focusing on the most common disorders facing young people, namely depression and anxiety disorders, while participants wore green ribbons to spread and acknowledge awareness of mental health issues.

In a closing interview, Dr Karwowska acknowledged the great attention Turkmenistan is paying to the problem of mental health, and emphasized WHO’s continued support on this important issue.

WHO supporting mental health work in Turkmenistan

Additional work has been ongoing in the areas of prevention and treatment of mental disorders in the country. The WHO Country Office recently supported the translation of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Intervention Guide (version 2) into Turkmen.

The guide is a resource to facilitate delivery of interventions for prevention and management of priority mental, neurological and substance use conditions, based on evidence about the effectiveness and feasibility of scaling up these interventions in low- and middle-income countries.

This guide has been distributed to primary care specialists throughout the country, and a training of trainers is planned for December 2018, with further on-site training to be held in the regions.