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Countering the effect of COVID-19 in Psychiatric Institutions in Armenia

18 November 2021

EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme: A Success Story – Armenia

When COVID-19 was just spreading on the globe for us too it was a new illness and we did not know how to deal with that illness… – Arthur Ghulijanyan

While most of society was struggling with the sudden changes to their daily lives, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, those living in closed mental institutions were used to restrictions. Despite this they saw their very limited connection with the outside world further restricted. While experts were trying to understand the level of contagion and what measures could curb the spread of the disease, those living in closed institutions were in higher risk zones due to the lack of possibilities for physical distancing and isolation for those affected.

Our project’s communication team met with the Project Coordinator Marieta Temuryan from Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor (HCAV) and Arthur Ghulijanyan, Director of Lori Regional Psycho-neurological Dispensary, one of the end-beneficiaries, to discuss the benefits of the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme had in Armenia.


A special regime was established in the country for institutions like ours. For about 6 months we lived under the emergency state conditions, during which visits by relatives were prohibited… and hugging was forbidden. – Arthur Ghulijanyan, Director, Lori regional psycho-neurological dispensary.

Within scope of the EU-funded “EU Covid-19 Solidarity Programme for Eastern Partnership 2020-2022,” and in cooperation with PIN and AFEW International, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Human Rights in Mental Health launched an open regional Call for Proposals to “Supply Equipment to Counter Effects of the COVID-19 in Closed Institutions” for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

In the Republic of Armenia, NHC and FGIP provided sub-grants to Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor (HCAV), an NGO that unites individuals who support the principles of democracy, tolerance, pluralism, and human rights as values. According to Marieta Temuryan, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor is an “organization that provides legal advice to citizens, including persons with mental health problems.”

On a broader level, HCAV observes the need of localisation and compliance with the international documents and human rights norms ratified by Armenia. Within the frame of the sub-grant, they have committed to both monitor the situation of COVID-19 and deliver necessary personal protection and communication equipment to the psychiatric institutions in the country.

We are implementing two projects with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee’s support. In the frame of one of those projects we were able to provide psychiatric institutions with computers to ensure that persons receiving treatment and care have communication with the outside world. – Marieta Temuryan, Project Coordinator, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor

As mentioned by Arthur Ghulijanyan, Director of the Lori regional psycho-neurological dispensary – one of the end beneficiaries of the programme –

“In the frame of this Project we received one portable computer. i.e. a laptop, around 2500 medical masks, and disinfectants (alcohol gel), I think 5 litres of it. –

Infographic: See link in comment to review :

Under the grant for “Supplying  Equipment to Counter Effects of the COVID-19 in Closed Institutions,”  HCAV has provided Personal protection and IT equipment for four institutions operating under the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure: Lori Regional Neuropsychiatric Dispensary (envisaged for 35 persons), Gyumri Mental Health Center (envisaged for 65 persons), Syunik Regional Psychiatric-Neurological Dispensary (envisaged for 80 persons) and Armash Health Center (envisaged for 100 persons). ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Under the grant for “Monitoring situation of Covid-19 in the closed institutions,” HCAV continues its monitoring in seven closed psychiatric institutions with the end goal of monitoring the compliance of domestic legislation with international standards of regulations in closed institutions in the conditions of the pandemic and contribute to reforms on securing the right to health in psychiatric institutions in the Republic of Armenia. The results of the monitoring will be published by the end of 2021.

“We are very glad that there are organizations that expressed willingness to help our institution… because if there is no help we ourselves purchase all the products. That is to say our patients should not lack anything.” However, now “we will allocate the relevant saved money for the implementation of other important projects.” – Arthur Ghulijanyan, Director, Lori regional psycho-neurological dispensary.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.