The Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) has called on relevant disaster management agencies to incorporate psychological assistance in the provision of support to victims of disasters in the country.
Dr Collins Badu Agyemang, President of the Association, who made the call, said provision of relief to survivors of such incidents must go beyond the usual food and mattresses to include psychological assistance to deal with the emotional stress, fear and trauma that came with such tragedies.
He said this when the Association together with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the Mental Health Authority led about 30 health professionals to Apam in the Gomoa West District of the Central Region to provide psychological support to affected families and the community following the drowning of 13 children a fortnight ago.
The week-long exercise is an attempt by the Ministry and the Association to help survivors and affected families deal with anxiety, fear and depression caused by the incident.
The 30 health professionals dispatched to the town included community psychologists, clinical psychologists and social psychologists, as well as psychiatrics and mental health nurses.
The president said as an Association of Psychologists and members of the Mental Health fraternity, it was aware of the psychosocial, emotional and even economic implications disasters had on survivors, families and community, adding that it was necessary that such persons were offered the right support to help them overcome the loss and grief.
“People are emotional beings, and crisis intervention, loss and bereavement therapy may help them deal with feelings such as hopelessness, being frightened, anxious, or depressed. People in crisis, may grieve as a result of both direct and secondary losses,” he added.
Dr Agyemang further called on district assemblies to employ the services of psychologists(counseling or clinical ) either as part of the hospital or in the district assembly to respond to such emergencies.
“As a nation we do have a big gap in our approach and management of disasters. We do not factor in the psychosocial and mental health implications in disaster management.
“NADMO can be superbly functional should they employ psychologists as part of their strategy to managing disasters effectively,” he said.
He said the association had in the past extended such psychological support to persons affected by disasters including victims of the Melcom Disaster, June 3rd fire-flood disaster, Atomic gas blast disaster and the merger of the seven insolvent banks into now CBG.
Dr Agyemang assured of the Association’s commitment to support victims of disasters to overcome the emotional torture.
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, reiterated government’s condolences to the families and the community and assured of its continuous support to bring comfort to them.
She explained that the exercise was a follow up to previous gestures by government to console and provide the necessary support to the survivors and affected families to overcome the incident.
Ms Safo urged the affected families to remain resolute and rely on God to strengthen and comfort them.