Panelists Call

Panelists at a round-table on “Conflict and mental nexus: Implications for sustainable conflict management in Ghana” have stressed the need for the country to as a matter of urgency work towards building strong social support systems.

They lamented that Ghana had no well developed systems that took care of the psychological needs of people, describing it as a ‘threat to human security’.

They have consequently, called for a more coordinated effort from stakeholders to holistically tackle mental health issues from a public health point of view, stressing that people became much productive when in a sound mind.

Additionally, they admonished the government to commit adequate resources to institutions and agencies in charge of mental health and social work to be able to effectively implement programmes to address the psychosocial needs of the people.

The roundtable was necessitated by research findings of a study conducted by Ms. Sabina, Appiah-Boateng PhD candidate of the Department of Peace Studies, University of Cape Coast (UCC) that covered the psychological causes of conflicts, its psychosocial effects, and coping strategies.

The Project by Ms Appiah-Boateng was supported by SDG Graduate School with funds from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

It was held in collaboration with the Department of Peace Studies, UCC, and moderated by Professor Stephen Kendie, Research Professor, UCC.

The panelists included Dr Patrick Osei Kuffour, Immediate past Head of Department (HoD) of Peace Studies, Dr Kofi Krafona, a Clinical Psychologist, Department of Psychology, Dr Kwadwo Tuffour, HoD, Department of Peace Studies and Ms Appiah-Boateng.

The study stressed the need for the changing dynamics of developmental discourse to go beyond substantive issues to include psychosocial issues, especially in conflict affected areas.

The panelists also advocated the concept of community psychologists where they would work directly with public health nurses and social welfare to support people with mental health issues in the community.

Ms Appiah-Boateng whose research was a point of reference for the roundtable said her research focused on the mental effects of conflicts on individuals and society because it had not been extensively studied.

She added that stakeholders have also not looked into the psycho-social effect or torture of conflicts which had left many victims of conflicts to live with traumatic experiences without help.

Speaking on the findings of her research, Ms Appiah-Boateng mentioned trauma, anxiety, depression, and reduced satisfaction in life as some of the psychological illness experienced by victims of conflicts.

For comprehensive conflict management, she said there was the need to strengthen social cohesion, encourage inclusiveness, manage diversity, and prevent destructive behaviour.

“A lot of people do not have the ability to cope and manage stress and in any case, their ability to cope depends on how much support they received from the society”, Dr Osei Kuffour stated

He said people go through a lot in life that affected their ability to undertake day to day activities but most often, they were neglected and left to their faith in the society.

“When people have psychological issues, the system leaves them to their fate. But it is not everyone who has resilient factors to cope with traumatic experiences”, he stated.

Dr Kofi Krafona stressed the need for the school counseling system to be strengthened and made effective and urged stakeholders to prioritize support mechanisms for people dealing with trauma.

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