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Regional News of Saturday, 30 May 2020

Source: GNA

Coronavirus: Govt urged to prioritise psychological well-being of citizens

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Mr Dominic Wunigura, the Programmes Coordinator for the Centre for People's Empowerment and Rights Initiative (CPRI), has reiterated the need for a linkage between the COVID-19 pandemic and the psychological wellbeing of the citizens.

"COVID-19, whether you have it or not, but the fear is there and the psychological impact is there, so there should be a linkage between COVID-19 and its psychological impact on the people", he noted.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Wa, Mr Wunigura underscored the need for the government to resource Mental Health Officers to reach out to the communities to sensitise more people on the pandemic.

He noted that if care was not taken, "we will realize that by the time we wake-up, we will have a serious health issue to deal with than COVID-19".

Mr Wunigura said factors such as economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic could affect the psychological wellbeing of the people, especially, vulnerable groups including persons affected by mental illness, pregnant women and extremely poor among others.

That, he said, could also result in domestic violence and stressed the need for effective sensitisation on the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly at the rural areas.
The CPRI Programmes Coordinator added that persons suffering from mental illness such as bipolar disorder, stress, anxiety and epilepsy among others were extremely vulnerable in the era of COVID-19 pandemic and needed special protection and care against the virus.

“They need to be handled in a special way because life doesn’t end with mental illness, people recover and make very meaningful contributions in society.

“So they should be protected because at this particular moment they may not be able to comprehend the information that is spreading”, Mr Wunigura observed.

Mr Wunigura added that families and caregivers of mentally ill people needed more education on the COVID-19 and ways to protect them from the virus.

He said that was the reason why the government needed to resource the Mental Health Officers to provide those services.

According to him, in the Upper West Region, for instance, the few Mental Health Officers were very enthusiastic and committed, but were not well equipped in areas such as transportation to enable them to carry out their duties effectively.