And this year, although less frequently, we continued to do interviews with popular Bulgarians, with whom we talk about mental health. We launched 2020 with Ivo Siromahov and closed with Dr Plamen Dimitrov. The other interviewees were: Ruth Koleva, Ivan Stoyanov, Irina Florin, Georgi Toshev, Preya, Elisaveta Belobradova, Maria Kassimova-Moisset, Mika Zaykova, Georgi Milkova, Ivo Dimcher and Maria Milkova. All interviews can be found HERE.
We continue to search for qualified and ethically practising mental health professionals who would like to join our database, making it easier for those in need to find a specialist, not only in Sofia but also across the country and abroad. In 2020 the filter was further developed. Currently, it allows for a search for Bulgarian-speaking therapists both in Bulgaria (Sofia, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Veliko Tarnovo, Balchik) and abroad: in Spain, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA and Great Britain. You can find the search engine HERE.
Паралелно в това, през 2020 г. успяхме да реализираме следните проекти:
“I” – a mental health forum ” – seminar.
At the beginning of 2020, we were contacted by a group of young people from Plovdiv. Worried about the rise of eating disorders, anxiety and depression and substance abuse amongst their peers, the girls and boys from PTPI Smiles, Plovdiv, asked us for help in organising a mental health forum. Thanks to their initiative, we had the pleasure to organise “I” – a mental health forum, ” an event that drew attention to a neglected love – self-love in the month of love. The psychotherapists Desislava Georgieva, Meglena Beneva and Vanya Pavlova, spoke about nutrition, sadness, apathy and self-harm in front of more than 60 people in the Limacon event hall, Plovdiv.
Forbes and SKIN
At the beginning of February, the first article dedicated to mental health, part of the partnership between the magazine and the” Skin – Mental Health Platform”Foundation, was published in Forbes Bulgaria magazine’s print issue. In this issue, dedicated to women, you can read an article by Irina Atanasova, which examines the Bulgarian woman’s mental health at work. On the Forbes Bulgaria webpage, you can find the materials published during the year.
WHO, Covid-19 and mental health
“Skin – Mental Health Foundation” made and disseminated the first translation of the World Health Organisation’s Department of Mental Health recommendations. After its publication, UNICEF Bulgaria and the Bulgarian office of the WHO contacted us to offer their recommendations for translation. The full version can be found HERE.
“Skin” gathered over 150 contacts of mental health professionals, for whom we learned that in the period of lockdown offer consultations free of charge. The list was sent and proposed for distribution to the media and can be found on the foundation’s website.
“Mental health during an epidemic” – a series of video interviews with mental health specialists.
We made the video series “Mental health during an epidemic”, in which the journalist Beloslava Dimitrova talks to mental health specialists. Some of the topics we covered were:
- Covid-19 and mental health care. What does the state do?;
- Anxiety and anxiety disorders;
- Fear of infection and hypochondria;
- Eating disorders and food as a way to control stress;
- Domestic violence and conflicts at home during isolation;
- Home office with kids;
- Coping with loss.
All interviews can be found HERE.
European Mental Health Week
As a member of Mental Health Europe Skin took part in the first European Mental Health Week. Run under the motto “Together We Can Cope” the mental health week aimed at emphasising the importance of mental health during and after the Covid-19 crisis. You can find out more about the initiative in MHE’s article.
We said goodbye to КОЖА.org.
Despite our goodwill to maintain the site on a Cyrillic domain КОЖА ТОЧКА КОМ, the digital world is unprepared to meet the needs of our alphabet. Therefore, we decided to suspend the support of the Cyrillic domain and keep only the KOJA-BG.ORG address. Thus, as of August 7, КОЖА ТОЧКА COM stopped functioning and redirects to the Latin address. We continue to hope for better times for the Cyrillic alphabet, and until then – www.koja-bg.org.
With the start of the vacation month of August, we started the 25×25 challenge to draw your attention to mental health care, for which there is no vacation. Many of you got involved and for 25 days did repetitions of a chosen activity, posted, shared, challenged friends. Those who couldn’t join us can do so this coming August. More details about the initiative HERE
Krasse pulled a pickup truck.
On September 26 and 27, ultramarathoner Krasse Georgiev pulled a pickup truck for 27.5 hours at Rakovski Stadium. The charitable event was in support of the “Skin – mental health platform” foundation, and with it, we set the campaign to raise funds to build a padded cell in the psychiatry in Lovech.
How do we think about mental health in Bulgaria?
On the eve of Mental Health Day, October 10, we proudly presented the results of a Gallup International pilot survey initiated by “Skin – mental health platform” foundation. The survey was made possible by an impressive fundraising campaign. The results were first presented to mental health professionals in a discussion, moderated by Mirolyuba Benatova, a renown Bulgarian journalist. After the official publication, the research was widely covered by the media – most of the media publications we have collected for you HERE, and HERE you can find an overview of the study.
“Skin” has a chatbot.
In the fall, in partnership with the Bulgarian chatbot company Umni.co, we got a chatbot! You can get acquainted with it through Messenger, as well as on the website of “Skin”. The chatbot is entirely in Bulgarian. It will greet you and introduce itself kindly, and then offer you a few topics and questions to provide you with more information or refer you to a useful link. This year, we hope to have the opportunity to upgrade its features and make it even more talkative and valuable for you.
We took several active positions on pressing civil and social issues:
HelpKarma: “Skin – mental health platform” joined an open letter of over 45 Bulgarian civil society organisations, expressing a position on the infamous investigation into the management of donated funds to a fundraising platform. We condemn the abuse of both donations and all participants’ trust in the charity process – donors, beneficiaries or performers. You can read the open letter HERE.
Homophobic aggression: After the organised homophobic attacks earlier in 2020, Skin asked Mental Health Europe and the European institutions to state a position. We are proud that our initiative has led to the consolidation of European organisations in an appeal to European and national governments not to jeopardise the lives, health and rights of LGBTI people. You can read the position HERE. We follow the development of this topic.
Report of the Committee against Torture: For several months now, Skin has been waging an administrative-judicial battle with the Ministry of Health under the Access to Public Information Act. We demand to know what is happening with the BGN 10 million promised by Minister Kiril Ananiev as Minister of Health for the refurbishment of the psychiatric facilities and prioritising young specialists’ training. Following another negative report from the Council of Europe’s Torture Committee, Skin contacted Mental Health Europe to address the European Institutions. You can read the full text HERE.
Accelerator # GenerousTuesday
With the fundraising campaign for constructing a padded cell in Lovech, Skin – Mental Health Platform Foundation was approved to participate in the Giving Tuesday 2020 accelerator, organised by the BCause Foundation. This recognition brought us many new opportunities, knowledge and friends and has shown us that we are not alone in a difficult cause, such as the battle with mental health stigma.
“2020 and I – a mental health forum”
Both at the beginning of the year and at its end (December 13), we had the opportunity to organise mental health seminars at the initiative of a group of young people from Plovdiv. “2020 and I – a mental health forum”, unlike its predecessor, was held online. This did not prevent any of the participants to spend nearly 4 hours in front of the monitor. The seminar was led by Dr Ivanka Ezhova and Dr Plamen Dimitrov and moderated by Nelly Danailova from PTPI-Smiles, Plovdiv.
“Empowerment and mental health” – seminar
On December 19, Skin organised and held the first seminar for Bulgaria, part of the series of Mental Health Europe (MHE) – a seminar on empowerment. “Empowerment and Mental Health” is one of three seminars – two national and one European, which MHE supports. The seminars, by design, are organised by service users for service users. In Bulgaria, mental health services are scarce. The people who use the few services are not organised in any form: no association, NGOs, support groups. Therefore, our seminar was conducted with the help of specialists – moderated by the psychiatrists Dr Vladimir Sotirov and Dr Irina Lazarova and with the kind participation of Mihail Okoliyski, in his capacity of a representative of the World Health Organization in Bulgaria. We hope that the next such seminar will be organised by service users, so we appeal to all who wish to be active in this field to contact us. More HERE.
Here is the pearl in our activity’s crown last year – the successfully completed campaign to raise funds for setting up a padded cell in the psychiatric hospital in Lovech. In a little more than a month, thanks to the support of donors, we managed to raise BGN 15,000, with which this year we will start the construction of the first functioning secure insulation room in our country. With this project, we do not aim to make a padded cell in a hospital. Its goal is a campaign – we want to focus on caring for the mentally ill in our country and show that together we can do more than that, passively shake our heads over negative reports and statistics.
Who did we reach?
In the last year, we have reached 474,770 people on Facebook. Of these, 100,416 people have seen a Skin publication as a paid post. 11, 402 are the people we have reached on Instagram.
Some of the posts that had a higher reach:
- The post with the visuals from the “Inner Voices” was seen by 109,800 people.
- The post announcing the start of the padded cell fundraising campaign has reached over 30,500 people.
- The study of attitudes towards mental health in our country – over 26,200 people.
- The video interview of Beloslava Dimitrova with Dr Plamen Dimitrov from the series “Mental health during a pandemic” on the topic of loss and death – nearly 13,000 people.
- The video interview of Beloslava with the psychotherapist Lyubomira Mancheva from the series “Mental health during a pandemic” on food and eating disorders – nearly 9000 people.
The visuals from “Inner Voices” are the leader among the posts with the most likes and reactions – over 2300 likes. It is followed by:
- The introduction of the recommendations of the Department of Mental Health to the WHO – 914 likes
- The interview with Dr Tsvetelsava Galabova – 501 likes
- The launching post of the fundraising campaign for the padded cell was liked by 362 of you.
- The post on pandemic-related anxiety and how it can provoke physical sensations resembling symptoms was liked by 311 people.
The main part of our followers is from Sofia, followed by Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, and London. In blue are the data for Facebook, in purple – for Instagram:
In the past year, we have managed to go beyond the borders of Bulgaria. Mexico, for example, is among the countries from which 0.8% of our followers come.
Thank you for your interest in our work.
If you are willing to support us, you can do so on via our Patreon account or foundation’s bank account: BG30FINV91501217482476
If you want to get involved as a volunteer, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form.