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General News of Friday, 27 March 2020

Source: GNA

GPA urges minimising negative psychological experiences in face of coronavirus

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The Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) has said there is the need to minimise negative psychological experiences in the face of COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

A release signed by Dr Richmond Acquah-Coleman, GPA National Public Relations Officer and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Association is closely monitoring events in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing number of cases in the country.

It said that psychologically these developments have the potential to cause fear, paranoia, depression, poor sleep quality, stress, irritability and emotional exhaustion.

It said besides, relatives of frontline workers such as doctors, nurses and other health workers are likely to live in perpetual fear and anxiety as their loved ones were out there combating COVID-19.

"We urge everyone to remain calm and alert to the coronavirus and base our responses on facts and not on fear. Certainly, the exponential growth of new coronavirus infection cases will heighten tension and increase uncertainty about a reliable solution," the statement said.

It if not minimized, could undermine the strict adherence to the preventive measures outlined by government and healthcare authorities.

It said stress weakens the immune system and reduces its ability to fight the coronavirus.

It said studies had shown that when people were stressed and anxious their attention to detail and accuracy were impaired and could fall victims to predatory and unscientific information.

It said to this end, the GPA suggests the following to minimize the bourgeoning negative psychological experiences as a result of the rising curve of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The statement said first, there is a need to add more effort to public education activities to reinforce strict adherence to the practice of social distancing and hand washing.

It said the preventive measures in place require significant behavioural and attitudinal adjustments (such as minimising the eating of local dishes with hands) which could be facilitated with intensive publicity.

It said this education must get people to understand that the measures in place are helping to keep themselves and others including vulnerable people safe.

It said the more Ghanaians adhere to the scientifically proven strategies to prevent the spread, the faster they could rise from the outbreak.

It said thus, the provision of adequate and quality information by experts and health professionals will help a great deal to minimize any negative psychological experience.

It said second, GPA strongly identifies the need to create a communal environment that is devoid of promoting the stigma associated with other diseases such as HIV/AIDS being transferred to victims of COVID-19.

The statement said, in this regard, the GPA recommends that the government must implement measures to discourage comments, actions and information which might be insensitive to the wellbeing of infected persons, their families and even recovered victims.

It said also, the media should be circumspect in its reportage and consciously avoid comments that inadvertently contribute to stigmatization and undermine their efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

"Besides, we must understand that social distancing does not mean social apathy," it said.

"Therefore, we admonish the general public not to withdraw their social support, love and affection to those infected and affected in these challenging times, knowing that no one stands immune from COVID-19."

The statement said thirdly, the GPA urges the public to maintain a positive outlook and use the “gift of time” they had now on positive activities.

It said given the partial lack of economic activities and the closure of schools by the government, school children and some parents have time to engage at home in ways that has been lacking because of daily hustles and bustles.

"Instead of spending time on fear-arousing news or information about COVID-19, we advise that people should spend more time reading, meditating and more importantly exercising their bodies to keep them strong and healthy.

"Let us help the situation by filtering any information we receive on social media about COVID-19," the statement said.

The statement said indeed, the sense of fear combined with the willingness to help might cause them to overshare information about the pandemic.

"As we restrain ourselves from sharing unofficial and unscientific information on social media, we minimize the sharing of misinformation that could exacerbate fear and panic," it said.

It said the GPA wishes to encourage families of infected persons, frontline workers and the public who were experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety about COVID-19 to seek psychological help via the following numbers +233200009989/+233020000999.

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