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Health News of Saturday, 23 May 2020

Source: GNA

Stigmatising Coronavirus patients could lead to mental problems - Psychologist

District directors and media practitioners at the training in Bolgatanga District directors and media practitioners at the training in Bolgatanga

Stigmatising suspected, infected or recovered persons of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has the tendency to increase mental health problems in the country, a clinical psychologist has said.

Mr Dickson Baba Nsoh of the Upper East Regional Hospital said the effects of stigmatisation was multifaceted, ranging from psychological, emotional to sociocultural trauma.

He said when continued, especially against COVID-19 patients, it could trigger an upsurge in mental health-related issues particularly after the pandemic and called for support rather than stigma.

The Psychologist was speaking to journalists and various directors of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in Bolgatanga during a training programme on the issue of stigmatisation and its related adverse effects.

Mr Nsoh explained that stigmatisation could lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, anger, aggression, fear and self-isolation.

He said the patients could further experience sociocultural humiliation including withdrawal from social settings and landlords ejecting tenants.

Some families could even be blacklisted and refused the right to marry while children may be deprived of the right to interact with their peers.

“The issue of stigmatisation is really worrying because we have had reports of persons who have been managed and discharged, which means that they have been cured of the condition but are having difficulties properly reintegrating in their communities,” Mr Nsoh said.

“Basically, what we are doing is public engagement in terms of education to let the public know that once the person is treated and discharged, the person is no longer a threat to the family or the community and that is why the person is being asked to come back home.”

Whilst calling for stakeholder engagement for intensive public education on the issue of stigmatisation, the Psychologist urged the public to avoid the act as it was dehumanizing and a threat to lives.

“What suspected, confirmed as well as persons treated and discharged want from us is empathy, they will want us to accept them, they are just like any other ill persons that have been treated and discharged from the hospital,” he said.

Mr Pontius Pilate Baba Apaabey, the Regional Director, NCCE, said it was imperative to provide support to enable those affected to settle well in their families and communities.

He said the training was empower the staff of NCCE and other major stakeholders on the appropriate methodologies to employ to educate citizens to avoid stigmatisation, especially against COVID-19 patients.

Whilst commending the Church of Pentecost and other institutions for supporting the Commission to carry out civic education on COVID-19, the Regional Director tasked his district directors and staff to work with diligence to achieve maximum results and demystify the misconception surrounding survivors of the disease.