RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Zhanna Andreasyan attended the event dedicated to the launch of the three-year program "Rights, Services and Participation: Fostering a Comprehensive Mental Health Framework in Armenia".

The program pursues the objective of promoting a rights-based approach to mental health by creating policies and mechanisms for accessible, inclusive, and evidence-based mental health services and favourable public attitude towards mental health issues in Armenia.

Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Vassilis Maragos, RA Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan also attended the event.

Minister Zhanna Andreasyan highlighted the importance of cooperation between international partners, civil society organizations and interdepartmental collaboration, stressing that the ESCS Ministry is also engaged in mental health programs that affect the organization of the educational process.

“The education system is the environment where we must talk about all issues and also learn how to address them. We must gain a thorough understanding of every issue that could have an impact on the learning outcome. We must admit that specialists working in schools must also learn how to talk about problems. Hence, collaborating with professional sectors and organizations is essential. Conversations and discussions about mental health are challenging: they have always caused problems in public perception. In this sense, increasing awareness is certainly important. Meanwhile, the education system is exactly the place where you need to learn to address all issues, including those related to mental health. The education system can play a key role in identifying effective strategies to address this phenomenon. Of course, this is also an issue that requires a professional approach. In this regard, significant changes have been made in the context of education reforms: since September 2023, the position of a psychologist has been introduced in all schools of Armenia, which indicates that in the process of organizing education, we attached great importance to a professional approach and the availability of relevant resources. Our current challenge is to continuously support the professional growth of school psychologists by equipping them with essential knowledge and skills,” said the Minister, emphasizing the importance of the productive activities of specialized structures operating in this field - territorial pedagogical-psychological support centers and the Republican Pedagogical-Psychological Center.

The Minister stated that these organizations must carry out a quality needs assessment: “It is essential to make an accurate diagnosis at the initial stage and then transmit the data to professional institutions,” noted Zhanna Andreasyan.

As an ongoing reform, she stressed that split funding is provided for reasonable accommodations and services in schools, giving priority to the forms of support provided for each school, which, according to the Minister, will have a direct impact on the education quality.

Minister Zhanna Andreasyan expressed gratitude for the educational component included in the three-year program, emphasizing that the ESCS Ministry is committed to collaborating on key initiatives promoting universal inclusivity.

In his welcoming remarks, EU Ambassador to Armenia Vassilis Maragos highlighted the importance of uniting various departments and civil society around the program.

“We aim to enhance the Armenian population's resilience and initiate human rights-based activities in Armenia. Through inclusive education and raising awareness, we need to address mental health issues.

We are ready to collaborate and strengthen the beneficiary institutions, once again reaffirming the strong bases for our cooperation,” said Vassilis Maragos.

Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan delivered speeches, outlining the progress made in their respective areas under the program. Artur Sakunts, Head of the Vanadzor Office of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, presented the general objectives of the program.

The EU-supported program Rights, Services and Participation: Fostering a Comprehensive Mental Health Framework in Armenia” is implemented by the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, Democracy Development Foundation, “Disability Rights Agenda” NGO and the Armenian Mental Health Association. Within the program framework, it is planned to enhance professional potential through conducting training sessions focused on early identification and proper management of mental health issues.