Health, Social inclusion

Healthy minds for better society

Promoting principles of democracy and social inclusion, encouraging willingness to participate in social life and combating mental health stigma in one of the most unhappy regions in Bulgaria


Who is behind this?

Silvia Koumanova

Social Health Center Somenso



Idea pitch

Most of the citizens in Smolyan region don’t trust the local authorities. They refuse to take part in social initiatives living isolated lives, which is threatening their mental health.
We believe that through safe and open dialog through the community members we can achieve the desirable inclusion. We will help people by increasing their self esteem as a community and will involve them in the social and political life. The methods we plan to use are storytelling and sociodrama.

Where will your project idea take place?

Smolyan Province, Southern-central Bulgaria

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The mental health stigma and learned helplessness are widespread in the region. Influenced by the mental state of learned helplessness, people are not thinking clearly, often they are victims of different kinds of political manipulations and populism. Usually the citizens of Smolyan province vote led by fear. Almost all of them expect some social figure to take the responsibility for their lives and they do not search for their civil rights independently. The mental health stigma and fear of asking for help is very high and is a barrier in front of individual and social development. It can have dangerous consequences threatening health and leading to very low life quality, misery and isolation.

Who are you doing it for?

Our target groups are:
- People who have never visited a mental health professional and don't have the required information about prevention of mental disorders. These people have some psychophysiological conditions (high blood pressure, increased heart rate etc.) that could be caused by stress, anxiety or depression.
- Local government and local NGOs
- Local psychologists or mental health specialists. Our strategy is to cover the social groups that act together as providers, clients and counselors in order to create a sustainable network, who will partner in the process of mental health prevention and treatment. We plan to achieve sustainable dialog between them.

How do you plan to get there?

We plan to organize 3 public events and 12 sociodrama and storytelling workshops. They will be organized and executed by us and local mental health professionals. We will train them in the method of sociodrama for the special purposes of the consequent workshops like group cohesion, increasing the level of trust in the community, self and social care and development, and mental health prevention. The scripts of the public events and workshops will be developed for the purposes of the project and its effective execution. The local professionals will spread the knowledge continuously in the region.The mentioned workshops will be executed every month year long and will be targeted to the local community. We will motivate the local community for involvement in the project using storytelling that came from their lifestyle and symbolic gifts that can be used for years remaining the purpose of change. The trust zone and continuous communication will be supported with a dedicated website, facebook group, instagram for sharing. This online platform will motivate local society for storytelling of their new full with confidence life monitoring progress of every individual and collective activities. The connection with the local authorities is crucial for the promotion and execution of the project. Their participation in the meetings and training will encourage the people for dialog.

What are the expected results?

At the end of the project we expect to achieve:
- to build local community who are willing to cooperate with each other, to be open for proactive communication with the local and national authorities.
- to increase the self-awareness and self-reflection in the community so that its members are capable to take more informed and adequate decisions regarding their civil rights and political preferences
- to train group members to be able to recognise the early symptoms of mental health issues in themselves and in other community members, relatives and friends.
- to create a communication channel which will be used to promote basic principles of mental health prevention.
- to train local mental health professionals as ambassadors and developers of our mission.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

All human growth and human functioning is powerfully influenced by wider social influences in our culture. A human being grows up in a social field that exerts enormous influence that may be largely beyond conscious awareness. All our lives we have been bombarded with belief systems, value systems and ideas about how life should work. These social and cultural forces have a powerful influence on our every day actions at home, in groups, at work and in all social situations. We will give the participants space to explore, to act out and to examine different ideas and life changing possibilities and strategies. Our group events will create a secure and friendly environment where people can share relieve and resolve their individual and social challenges.

Why is this idea important to you?

Silvia Koumanova is a professional focused on behavioral therapy and stress management. She is connected with Smolyan and aware of its social problems. She performed a project in the region and behalf of ‘Global Libraries’ NGO Bulgaria. Radostina Minina is psychodrama and sociodrama therapist. She worked also as a screenwriter and editor. Her connection to the region is as editor of a history book about the region. Anelia Yotova holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Montpellier, France. She is a specialist in multi-level marketing. Her main skills are creating a society for recommendations, finding members, organising networking events. They are all part of Somenso Social Society. Its mission is to combat the stigma of mental health and to promote mental health prevention.

€ 37000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Personal costs: incl local representatives - 15 000 EUR
Public relations: 3000 EUR
Travel and accomodation cost: 1000 EUR
Digital platforms and site development: 4000 EUR
Events: 7000 EUR
Workshops: 7000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We expect to get know-how about keeping good connections with local authorities and ideas for debate group proposals.


Social Health Center

Idea created on April 22, 2021
Last edit on April 22, 2021

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