Lifeline director will speak about crisis helpline for Ukraine

Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University

Public Lecture

Crisis Helpline Service in Ukraine – A Feature of Mental Health Reform


Alan Woodward, Executive Director, Lifeline Research Foundation, Lifeline Australia

Time: 6.30 p.m. -8.00 p.m., Monday 9 October 2017

Place: Lecture Theatre HB40 (Basement level), Building H, Caulfield Campus, Monash University. Map.

Alan Woodward is the Executive Director for the Lifeline Research Foundation in Australia, working with academic and professional experts to build the evidence base for Lifeline Australia crisis support services, and to translate research knowledge into best practices for crisis support and community based suicide prevention. Through the Lifeline Research Foundation Alan Woodward has overseen research projects for Lifeline’s crisis chat service, suicide hot spot interventions and suicide prevention training programs. He has led service development for the Lifeline Australia 13 11 14 crisis line, participated in the development of Lifeline Online Crisis Support Chat and revised the internal quality standards and accreditation program for the crisis line and other Lifeline national services. In 2010 he coordinated Lifeline Australia submission and contributions to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Suicide.

Alan Woodward has been a Board Director with Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) since 2009. He has contributed to the establishment of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention and development of the National Research Plan on Suicide Prevention. He chairs the Policy Committee for Suicide Prevention Australia. He is a member of the NSW Mental Health Commission Community Advisory Council, the RUOK? Day Scientific Committee and the Woollahra Council Gap Park Stakeholders Group. He is a coordinator of the International Association for Suicide Prevention Helplines Special Interest Group and has participated in the steering committee for the World Alliance of Crisis Helplines.

Alan Woodward is the author of the June, 2017 report National Crisis Helpline in Ukraine.


Abstract: There are estimated to be more than 1,000 crisis helpline services worldwide (World Alliance of Crisis Helplines). These range from small services in a locality, to large national crisis helplines with universal appeal, to specialist helplines on issues such as domestic violence and child protection. These services grew from the 1950s onwards and represented a community mental health outlook through which non-professional/non-clinical services such as helplines performed a role of attracting people who are experiencing personal crisis and struggles in their lives through the offer of confidential, accessible and cheap services. Today these crisis helplines include telephone and other technology channels for delivery such as online chat, text and messaging and email.

As Ukraine strengthens and reforms its service system for mental health and wellbeing to service its population, which is going through substantial challenge and transitions, the inclusion of a national crisis helpline service is an appropriate effective initiative. Such a service may be regarded as ‘essential service infrastructure’. A Ukraine national crisis helpline would sit within an existing set of helplines and within a wider health and social services system in the country – and it would relate to and support other mental health reforms. It would also enable a more responsive approach to suicide prevention on a national scale.

To commence in the development of a national crisis helpline service for Ukraine, a first step should be a clear statement of strategic intent for the national crisis helpline that will assist in guiding its development and articulating the intended benefits. The operation of a national crisis helpline should ideally be through a non-government organization, thereby building the involvement of community supports and a charitable sector in Ukraine as part of the overall direction for mental health and wellbeing reforms.