, 14 August, 2020 / 8:04 PM
A Religious Brother of the St. Augustine Order in Ghana has described statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), which indicate that 650,000 Ghanaians are suffering from severe mental disorders, as alarming, a situation he says needs to be urgently addressed.
In his address during the launch of the Ghana Psychological Association Week celebrations that commenced Monday, August 10 in Accra, Bro. Aaron Prosper Kuubagr, a psychologist and the Northern Regional Representative of the Ghana Psychological Association said that a little over 2 million Ghanaians are also suffering from moderate to mild mental disorders.
He urged Ghanaians “to take steps towards their mental and psychological well-being amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
“As our daily lives are filled with stressors, failure to manage stressors can lead to illness and mental disorders,” the Religious Brother cautioned, underscoring the need to make psychological well-being “a reality for all.”
Bro. Kuubagr went ahead to recommend the undertaking of introspection, learning of coping techniques, and seeking help as ways to ensure mental well-being of people.
According to the Ghanaian psychologist, anxiety, fear, isolation, social and physical distancing, restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress have become widespread as the world struggles to bring the coronavirus under control.
The Religious Brother who teaches at the Kintampo Senior High School in Ghana’s Bono East Region appealed to certified psychology practitioners to consider providing psychological services to people who are likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed or distressed.
He noted that mental health and psychological well-being are a human right, hence must be readily available to all and sundry, adding, “It is time this is available for all and that quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage which is urgently required as the world grapples with this global health emergency.”
Speaking to the theme, “Making psychology relevant to the Ghanaian, before, during and after COVID-19 pandemic,” Bro. Kuubagr lamented that the pandemic came at a time when there are already challenging mental health issues across the globe.
The weeklong celebration aims at creating awareness about Ghana Psychological Association and addressing psychological issues in the West African nation amid COVID-19 effects on the country’s educational system, religious gatherings, and social interactions among other areas of life that require psychological well-being.
Bro. Kuubagr pointed out that failure to collectively address mental health disorders could cost the global economy up to US$16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 as indicated in the 2018 World Economic Forum report.
He expressed optimism that a call to action could be strengthened through alliances, collaboration and partnerships to ensure that investment in psychological well-being is prioritized particularly during this global health emergency and thereafter.
On his part, a Catholic psychologist, Peter Amadu Mintir who heads the Clinical Psychology Unit at the Tamale Teaching Hospital said that with the long existence of the Ghana Psychological Association, psychologists in Ghana have a role to play in letting the citizens know the role psychology can play to alleviate the effects of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Guidance and Counselling Unit at the University for Development Studies, Dr. Amos Alale, said that psychology can contribute to national development in terms of job analysis, policy and administration.
Dr. Alale bemoaned how political actors and the public have been unaware of this over the years and was hopeful through the maiden celebration that the benefits of psychology would be brought to the fore.
The Ghana Psychological Association is a network with membership drawn from various psychology subdisciplines and practitioners of applied psychology including lay counsellors, registered and licensed by the Ghana Psychology Council, the regulatory body.
At the event, the President of the Ghana Psychological Association called on Ghana’s Ministry of Education to refer Senior High School Students who were recently sanctioned for misconduct in the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) to the Association for psychological assistance.
Speaking in relation to the students involved in the alleged violence, Dr. Erica Dickson said, “You can’t punish just for punishment’s sake. We need to punish with a goal if we must. We need to understand them and steer them in the right direction. It is only the guidance of someone who has the know-how that helps push the person in the right direction.”
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