May 9, 2013
May is Mental Health Month, the theme to which is ‘Pathways to wellness. This month will give us focus on raising public awareness about the importance of mental health in people’s lives.
Kosovo has an urgent need to promote and improve mental health care programming, including treatment and awareness programs, instead of merely allowing the shame and stigma of emotional health challenges to continue. A School-based Psychological Services Program (SBPSP) is at the center of this call for action.
The SBPSP program offers psychosocial services and counseling for adolescents, by a team of psychologists. The purpose of the SBPSP is to remove barriers to accessing mental health services, and prevent and treat mental health problems among youth. It lays the foundation for a potential expansion of mental health services in Kosovo’s schools. The SBPSP program was implemented at the Gymnasium High-School “Hajdar Dushi”, in Gjakova, and “17 Shkurti”, in Obiliq, Kosovo.
Long-term application and expansion of the SBPSP program into Kosovar schools will contribute to better academic performance; will reduce disruptive behaviors in the classroom; reduce student absenteeism; reduce student conflict; and raise student motivation to study more – all these factors which contribute to more positive student concentration and involvement in class.
According to psychological studies, it is not enough for youth to get help from only family members and friends. Twenty percent of adolescents need counseling from mental health professionals. “Psychologist placement into primary and secondary schools must be done immediately. This will positively impact students’ environment and academic performance.” – says psychologist Blerta Sulhasi, SBPSP Program Director and Hope Fellow.
Even though many Kosovars have mental health challenges, it is still very difficult for people to talk about it, due to shame, fear and misperceptions. If we talk openly about mental health, as community members, we will make accessibility easier for people in need for these services.
All of us – parents, teachers, friends, journalists – can help raise awareness and overcome the stigma around mental health. Now, more than never, as a post-war country, it is time to talk about mental health issues at schools, in the media, families, at youth and other community centers, all over Kosovo.
Support our campaign by sharing this or follow our activities at the “Programi i Sherbimeve Psikologjike ne Shkolla”, on Facebook . Link: http://on.fb.me/QaZn1t
Let’s raise awareness for importance of mental health!
On the Good Governance Training Cycle conducted in April and May 2013, Hope Fellowships provides courses on:
1. Welcome & Overview: Teambuilding, Personal, Active and Participatory Leadership, Introduction to Leadership and HF Leadership Model
2. What is good governance? Principles of Good governance
3. Decentralization – Government and Our Community
4. Strategic Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation System
5. Planning & Budgeting, and Record Keeping; By-laws and Advocacy
6. Developing and Managing EU Funded Projects
Hope Fellowships Good Governance group.
THE AWARDEES FOR KOSOVO LEADERSHIP PROGRAM ARE:
1. Albulena Sylaj-Zeqiri currently works as Communications Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, in the Government of the Republic of Kosovo in Prishtina. Albulena studied Mass Communication at AAB University.
2. Anita Sutaj as of February 2010 is a Trademark Examiner, at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in the Government of the Republic of Kosovo in Prishtina. Her bachelor degree is on Management and Computing from the Economics Faculty in Prishtina University. Currently Anita is a Master degree candidate at the Dardania University for Business Administration.
3. Arjeta Podvorica is Coordinator of Human Rights Unit in the Municipality of Podujeva. By profession Arjeta is Lawyer. She received her Law bachelor degree in 2005, her Master degree on Constitutional Adminstration in 2012, she also passed the Bar Exam in 2008.
4. Bahrije Mahmuti-Beqiri as of 2011 serves as Director of Urban Planning and Environmental Protection Directorate at the Gjilam Municipality. By profession Bahrije is an architect, studied in the Faculty of Construction and Architecture, graduated in 2002 from the Prishtina University.
5. Besa Veseli is Gender Equality Officer in the Municipality of Mitrovica. She studied Psychology in the Philosophical Faculty at the Prishtina University.
6. Blerta Miftari is Chief of Cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Ministry of Local Government Administration, in the Government of Kosovo in Prishtina. Blerta’s Master Degree is on Public Policy and Public Administration from the American University of Kosovo, whereas her Bachelor Degree is on Public Administration from the South East European University, located in Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia.
7. Burbuqe Pepaj is Construction Inspector, within the Inspection Directorate in the Municipality of Istog. By profession Burbuqe is Construction Engineer, graduated in 1991 from the Construction Faculty in Prishtina University.
8. Dita Dobranja is Deputy Executive Director at the Institute for Development Policy. Dita graduated from the American university in Kosovo on Economics and Statistics, Management, Public Policy.
9. Doruntina Ukimeri is Task Manager of the Antenna Office in the framework of the Cross Border Cooperation Programme between Albania and Kosovo at the Ministry of Local Government Administration and Founder & Member of NGO “N’GO. Doruntina is an architect by profession, studied Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania.
10. Drenusha Mula is Local Coordinator for a Civil Society Organization Lëvizja FOL (eng: Speak up Movement) in Gjakova. Drenusha received her bachelor degree in 2008 in Political Science and Public Administration, whereas her Master Degree in 2012 in Political Science, both from the Prishtina University.
11. Elfete Blakaj is a Chemist by profession, studied in the Prishtina University, Faculty of Math and Natural Sciences, Department of Chemistry. Currently serves as an Officer for Environmental Protection in the Municipality of Istog.
12. Ferdane Asllani works for Balkan Sunflowers as Strategy Program Advocate in Fushe Kosove.
13. Hadika Abdurrahmani is a Senior Professional Official in the Office of the Mayor of Vushtri Municipality since April 2006. Hadika graduated in 1989 in Law, from Law Faculty in Prishtina University.
14. Hatixhe Daku is a Coordinator of the Unit for the Financial Management of Projects within the procurement Directorate in the Municipality of Gjilan. She is an Economist, studied in the Prishtina University and graduated in 1984.
15. Leonora Bërbatovci for nearly three years is a Journalist at the Radio Television of Kosova (RTK). She completed her Bachelor Degree in 2008 on Political Science and Public Administration at the Prishtina University. Currently is a Master degree candidate on civil society and local development at the University of Prishtina.
16. Linda Abazi-Morina, is Project Coordinator in Addressing Gender-Based Violence project, implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She studied at the University of Prishtina in the Department of Psychology and is a graduated Psychologist. Currently is a Candidate of MA Clinical Child & School Psychology in the University of Prishtina.
17. Meliza Haradinaj is a Local Councilor at the Municipal Assembly of Prishtina. Meliza’s postgraduate degree is in Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, whereas her undergraduate degree is in Public Policy and Management, at the American University of Kosovo.
18. Naime Podvorica is Gender Equality Officer in the Municipality of Podujeva since December 2002. She studied Law, graduated in 1997 from the Law Faculty in the Prishtina University.
19. Qazime Vata as of 2008 serves in the Municipality of Ferizaj as Director of the Urban Planning, Property Geodesy, Cadastre and Environment Directorate. By profession Qazime is an architect, studied in the Faculty of Construction and Architecture, Prishtina University.
20. Rifadije Paloja is Director of the Directorate for Culture, Youth and Sports at the Municipality of Obiliq since 2011. In 1999 she graduated from the Faculty of Philology, Department of Albanian Language and Literature, in the Prishtina University.
21. Shefkije Mehmeti is a Chair of the Municipal Assembly of Novobërdë, since 2010. She studied Public Administration in AAB University and graduated in 2011.
22. Shqipe Kurti is an Editor of Population Census Publications at the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS). Shqipe holds a Bachelor Degree of Science in Economics from the University of Pristina.
23. Svetlana Perović works for the Office of the Auditor General of Kosovo as an Auditor since September 2007. Svetlana by profession is Social Political Scientist where she studied Social Politics at the Faculty of Political Science in the University of Belgrade.
24. Teuta Musa is Secretary General of Women’s Forum of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Teuta graduated from the University of Prishtina at the Philology Faculty on Albanian Language and Literature, whereas her Master degree is on Diplomacy and International Relations from FAMA University in Prishtina.
25. Venera Kosumi-Çerkini as of January 2013 serves as Head of European Integration Division in the Ministry of Local Government Administration, in the Government of Kosovo in Prishtina. She holds bachelor degree in Law, whereas her Master on Legal Science, from Prishtina University.
26. Venera Kabashi serves at the Ministry of Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Division for Policy and Legislation as a Senior Legal Officer. She studied Law at the University of Prishtina, following her Postgraduate studies on EU Studies at The International Centre for European Training (CIFE), Berlin, Germany and Master of Law (LL.M) at the University College London.
27. Violeta Berisha graduated in 1987 from the Law Faculty, in Prishtina University. As of September 2011, Violeta serves as Head of the Office for Reintegration and Repatriation in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Government of Kosovo in Prishtina.
28. Vlora Maliqi is President of Women’s Forum of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) Lagja Spitalit Branch and Primary School Teacher. She studied at AAB University for English Language and Literature, and currently is a candidate for Master Degree on English Language and Literature.
29. Zana Pljakić as of 2011 is Trade Inspector in the Municipality of Gračanica. By profession Zana is an Economist, graduated in 1984 in Prishtina University.
30. Zekije Sutaj is Head of Legal Office in the Municipality of Istog since February 2005. She graduated from Law Faculty in 1988, also passed the Bar Exam in 2001 from Prishtina University.
THE AWARDEES FOR WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP PROGRAM ARE:
1. Blerta Miftari is Chief of Cabinet of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Ministry of Local Government Administration, in the Government of Kosovo in Prishtina. Blerta’s Master Degree is on Public Policy and Public Administration from the American University of Kosovo, whereas her Bachelor Degree is on Public Administration from the South East European University, located in Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia
2. Dita Dobranja is Deputy Executive Director at the Institute for Development Policy. Dita graduated from the American university in Kosovo on Economics and Statistics, Management, Public Policy.
3. Doruntina Ukimeri is Task Manager of the Antenna Office in the framework of the Cross Border Cooperation Programme between Albania and Kosovo at the Ministry of Local Government Administration and Founder & Member of NGO “N’GO. Doruntina is an architect by profession, studied Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Albania.
4. Linda Abazi-Morina, is Project Coordinator in Addressing Gender-Based Violence project, implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She studied at the University of Prishtina in the Department of Psychology and is a graduated Psychologist. Currently is a Candidate of MA Clinical Child & School Psychology in the University of Prishtina.
5. Meliza Haradinaj is a Local Councilor at the Municipal Assembly of Prishtina. Meliza’s postgraduate degree is in Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, whereas her undergraduate degree is in Public Policy and Management, at the American University of Kosovo.
6. Shqipe Kurti is an Editor of Population Census Publications at the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS). Shqipe holds a Bachelor Degree of Science in Economics from the University of Pristina.
7. Teuta Musa is Secretary General of Women’s Forum of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Teuta graduated from the University of Prishtina at the Philology Faculty on Albanian Language and Literature, whereas her Master degree is on Diplomacy and International Relations from FAMA University in Prishtina.
8. Venera Kabashi serves at the Ministry of Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Division for Policy and Legislation as a Senior Legal Officer. She studied Law at the University of Prishtina, following her Postgraduate studies on EU Studies at The International Centre for European Training (CIFE), Berlin, Germany and Master of Law (LL.M) at the University College London.
Hope Fellow Merita Emini-Sadiku contributed with the chapter “Can We Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes?” in the book “Glucose Tolerance” edited by Sureka Chackrewarthy.
Suzana Krasniqi, Hope Fellow from the Rule of Law group, also is the Director of Legal Issues, Treaties and Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs completed her leadership initiative Research on International Treaties. The completion of Suzana’s project supports improvement of the situation on human rights dimension. Kosovo as a state will join international organizations and mechanisms and therefore will be obliged to report to the respect of human rights.
Lirie Lokaj, Hope Fellow from the Diplomacy and Democracy group finalized her leadership initiative on Attitudes of Kosovar adolescents toward gender equality in December, 2012 – Full Report
Certificate of Membership – in July 2012, SOS Children Villages Kosovo became a full member of SOS Kinderdorf International. Certificate was handed over to National Director, Ms. Ramadani-Salihu (Hope Fellow) by the President of SOS KDI Mr. Helmut Kutin at the General Assembly in Innsbruck. Also listen and watch the speech by Secretary General Mr. Richard Pichler, and National Director of SOS Kosova Ms. Nezahat Ramadani Salihu. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-Fellowships/238306759763?ref=hl#!/photo.php?v=4288214773350
Picture: Handover of the membership certificate by President Helmut Kutin and Secretary General Richard Pichler to the National Director, Ms. Ramadani-Salihu also a Hope Fellow of Health and Social Welfare group.
Alma Lama, Hope Fellow from the Rule of Law group as well as Member of the Kosovo Parliament during July 2012 processed the Bill for the protection of journalistic sources at the Kosovo Assembly. This is her first legal initiative, precisely the drafting of a bill. The purpose of this law is to regulate the issue of the protection of the right of journalists to protect their sources of information, based on Articles 40 and 42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. This law is applicable for all journalists and media professionals engaged in the collection, processing and dissemination of information through the media, who are Kosovo citizens and other non resident persons, and who cannot be denied the protection of their rights and privileges guaranteed by this law, other laws and bylaws that regulate various issues regarding freedom of the media.
“When I was in the USA, precisely in Washington, DC with Hope Fellowships Program I researched about confidential sources, and now, as a Member of the Parliament possibility is created to contribute directly in such a law which provides journalists a more extensive protection, protection which is essential for freedom of the media and consequently the functioning of democracy” stated Alma.
Director of British Council Kosovo and Hope Fellow of Diplomacy and Democracy group, Arjeta Emra which is leading the project on “Communicating with Europe through diplomacy during May 2012 fully and successfully implemented the project which was part of her leadership initiative designed during Hope Fellowships Program.
-Developing Foreign policy operational plans in place to address the statehood challenges of Kosovo in international relations resulted with the Operational Plan developed in the first two months of the start of the project. This plan became the basis of all future activities of the project
-Setting up New channels of communication and cooperation developed with countries hesitant to recognize Kosovo’s independence resulted with the activity which was done for the first time after the declaration of independence Kosovo, was able to establish the channels of communication with non-recognizing countries. These included Government, civil society, academic exchanges and business.
-Engaging neighborly relations to foster a joint EU integration agenda resulted with inclusion of the good-neighborly element in all the activities of this project throughout the year. Also, the new agreement with Serbia opens a new chapter for Kosovo to be represented regionally
-Strengthening central capacities proving support to diplomatic and consular service of Kosovo engaged seconded of two experts to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of policy and one on protocol
During the first year of the MFA’s involvement in the initiative conducted by the British Council following results were achieved:
-267 individual visits were organized from countries such as Slovakia, Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Alger, Russia, China, including 8 present and former foreign ministers and Prime Ministers, dozens of university professors, study trips with media such as NY Times, El Mundo, El Pais, FT.
-Projects were implemented by following partners European Council of Foreign Relations, British Council, Open Society Foundation – George Soros Networks as well as the top Kosovan NGO’s and cultural institutions.
-Many specialized and targeted publications were launched including special supplements on Kosovo in magazines The Diplomat and Le Lettre Diplomatique, as well as the start of the publication of MFA’s own newsletter Kosovo’s New Diplomat, as well as books on Kosovo written by eminent authors and publicists such as UK’s former Europe Minister Dennis MacShane.
-Several large scale gatherings and events were organized including inaugural Germia Hill Conference, as Kosovo’s premier foreign policy forum, that brought 100 top foreign and security experts from around the world to discuss issues related to multipolarity of the world and the role of Turkey and Russia in Balkans. The conference was lauded as one of the most successful conferences in 2011 and editorials from participants were subsequently in newspapers in Danmark, Israel, France and UK. KS Talks EU conference brought opinion and decision-makers from 5 EU non-recognizers in a productive session that produced opinion-papers on the forms to advance Kosovo’s integration in the European political and security architecture.
-Special advisors were added to the MFA that helped and increased the overall scope and portfolio of activities of the FP institutions in Kosovo, helping in protocol, new media, event-management, policy development and analysis and public diplomacy.
-Exchanges of journalists, intellectuals, politicians and youth with Serbia, Bosnia, Spain, Romania, Slovakia.
-Strategic workshops on bridging Kosovo’s digital divide through integrating Kosovo’s fledgling Internet habitat to the commercial and cooperation opportunities with the wider net. Helping and teaching young people use content creation in new media in promoting dialogue and positive political engagement rather than exclusivist and hate-speech.
The projects were financed jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, UK’s FCO, Open Society Foundation and were implemented by British Council, KFOS and some other local NGO’s. Following a successful review of the project implemented in 2011 by the Kosovo chapter of British Council, this year a new series of projects are planned by the respective partners to build up on the work implemented in 2011 and increase the overall network and effect of the projects.
Blerta’s HF leadership project aimed to establish a School-based Psychological Services Program, removing barriers to adolescents’ access to mental health services, and preventing and treating mental and emotional health problems among youth. The project, by design, identifies, prevents, and treats mental health issues. It also improves the availability of mental health services in general. Through successful use of this strategy, the project will contribute to students’ better academic performance by decreasing absenteeism, tardiness, and school discipline or behavior problems – factors which impact students’ focus and engagement in the classroom. Project objectives: (1) to build the capacity of schools to increase prevention and mental health promotion programs and services in the school setting for all students; (2) to increase student access to quality mental health services; (3) to increase all students’ developmental and academic success; and (4) convince the MoE to implement student counseling services across more regions of Kosova.
Since being back from Washington Leadership Program through Hope Fellowships, Blerta started implementation of her project, precisely in mid January 2012 and finalized it in July 2012. The project activities included: Group Meetings, Individual Meetings, Radio Shows, and the establishment of a project Web-Page.
GROUP MEETINGS: Once a week, groups of students with 10-12 students each, and with two leading psychologists, got together on school grounds, to discuss mental health concerns. They also participated in different psychological activities for 7 weeks. Overall, 90 students were involved in these meetings.
INDIVIDUAL SESSIONS: Two psychologists held individual sessions for those students in need. The psychologists filling this role were already serving as psychology teachers in the participating school. One of the psychologists was the Program Director, Ms. Blerta Sulhasi and the other was a teacher of psychology at the High School Gymnasium “H.Dushi.” Students that were referred by teachers or student leaders, or were self “walk-ins,” could access this service.
WEB PAGE: The Program’s internet page on Facebook, provides up-to-date information assisting students, parents, mental health professionals and educators promote the mental health of students, and conduct awareness-raising about adolescents’ mental health. On this site, students and parents have access to psychological articles, and can find links to mental health resources. This web page aims to provide users with tools that prevent and reduce symptoms of mental/emotional health issues. It also encourages users to consider the many ways they can strengthen and promote good mental health skills and recommit themselves to adolescent’s positive mental health development.
RADIO SHOW –SBPSP aired a weekly Radio Show on Radio Gjakova between February and July 2012. In partnership with Radio Gjakova, SBPSP used the radio program to dramatically increase the reach of SBPSP’s message and information, especially to adolescents and parents wanting to learn more about psychological issues. SBPSP invited different mental health professionals each week to serve as guest experts. The SBPSP Program Director, Blerta Sulhasi, used the first show to introduce the public to the School-Based Psychological Services Program. Ms. Sulhasi also shared her Hope Fellowship Program experiences from Prishtina and Washington DC. During the second week, SBPSP invited the executive director of the NGO, Children for Tomorrow – Kosova, as a guest of the show. Children for Tomorrow talked about the activities they provide, and gave more information on where Gjakova’s adolescents can go to find psychological services. Ms. Sulhasi and Children for Tomorrow (CFT) – Kosova, also spoke about the partnership between the School-Based Psychological Services Program and CFT. The next 16 radio shows discussed: Adolescence, Depression, Stress, Drugs, Bullying, Aggression, Conflict Resolution, Eating Disorders, Interpersonal Relationships, the role of school psychologists in Kosova, Anxiety, Self-Esteem, and so on.
Conclusion: The School-based Psychological Services Program pilot project started as planned in January 2012. Activities that were part of this pilot project, and that have been completed as of July 2012, include: Meetings with Hajdar Dushi’s school principal, psychologists, Children for Tomorrow’s director and staff (SBPSP’s partner NGO); 20 individual sessions; 56 weekly group meetings with students; The creation and maintenance of SBPSP’s web page and the development and commencement of a weekly SBPSP radio show. This pilot project, has served more than 100 students from Gjakova and Obliq, Kosovo. Additionally, various magazines, newspapers and national TV have run stories about the program and its importance to young people.
“If the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health adopt this program for the long term, we will begin to see a real improvement in the mental health of students” added Blerta.
For more information click on the links below: