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Opinions of Monday, 21 February 2022

Columnist: Gilbert Konwie Langu

Psychosocial needs of Apiate community people: The impact of the explosion may require other interventions

Many lives were lost in the explosion Many lives were lost in the explosion

On the 20th January 2022, the world for that matter Ghana woke up to the news of a large blast that occurred in a community called Apiate near Bogoso in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipal Assembly, Ghana. A total of 17 people were confirmed dead and 59 other injured people were rescued.

The explosion was severe to the extent that the whole community blew off affecting road networks, schools, markets and other services at the community level. As a result, a number of relief services have been pouring in from the Government through the Prestea Municipal Assembly, benevolent people, Religious organizations, N.G.Os etc. The Ghana National Fire Service, National Disaster Management Organization, Ghana Police Service and Ambulance Service came in to manage the situation. The government set up a fund which is being managed by a five- eminent member committee with varied expertise.

However, counseling/clinical psychologists were not part of the committee. This raises concern about how serious the Nation takes the mental health of its citizens, especially in matters of this nature.

In situations like these, humanitarian response and support services are mainly focused on activities of donation of funds, food distribution, provision of shelter, access to clean water and other relief items to the neglect of psychosocial support which is very important for recovery of the traumatized community members. Psychosocial support basically consists of being attentive to individuals who may need support, listening and comforting them, helping them understand their concerns. Sometimes people just want others to be available for them and hear their story which is healing enough.

Psychosocial support also includes action towards the promotion of the wellbeing of people taking into consideration their (thoughts, feelings and behavior) and linking that with their social connection and support around them (relationship, interactions). It includes support provided by family, friends and providing strategies to support themselves with the aim of protecting their psychosocial support.

What indigenes may experience following the explosion

People who have experienced or witnessed a disaster may have an acute stress reaction, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and depression that can cause some of these thoughts and behaviors.

Recurring thoughts of the incident

Greater sensitivity to changes in their environment or being easily startled. Increased desire to stay away from people. No longer maintaining daily routines and activities. Feelings of guilt, such as “Why did I survive? I should have done something more. "Feelings of grief and loss. Reluctance to express feelings for fear of losing control over emotions. Emotional reactions, such as tears or anger. Physical reactions, such as restlessness, aches or pains. Women and children are likely to suffer psychologically in silence in situations of this nature.

Children in their households may also show changes in behavior or signs of trauma or extreme stress following the explosions. These behaviors and symptoms can include severe anxiety; quietness or withdrawal from parents and families, nightmares and trouble sleeping, and aggressive behavior. Many children will require urgent and sustained psychosocial support to address the trauma of the explosion. Psychosocial support could come in the form of psychosocial kits for children and parents; setting up child-friendly spaces in the affected community; and the provision of more specialized, intensive, and longer-term support for those who need it.

What to do after experiencing a traumatic event

Survivors in the immediate vicinity of an explosion may be struggling with physical injury and experiencing a range of strong thoughts and feelings. When such tragedies occur, people struggle to make sense of the destruction, loss and emotional distress. It is therefore important for victims to:

Turn to others and Keep connected for support
It can be difficult to talk to close family or friends after a traumatic event. One needs to be around other people when he feels anxious or depressed so they can help with recovery and wellbeing. Social support is a key factor in helping people to successfully survive a tragedy. Maintaining social networks and activities can provide a sense of normalcy, and offer valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.

Looking after themselves

It is important to look after one’s health and wellbeing. This can include taking a break or some time away to deal with the experience and also try and keep a healthy diet and stay away from drugs and alcohol, which can exacerbate the problem.

Find positive ways to reduce stress and negative feelings.
Following the tragic event, one may feel the need to turn away from negative thoughts and feelings he/she is experiencing through positive distractions, such as listening to music, reading a book, exercising or watching a movie can help renew you so you can refocus on meeting challenges in your life. Avoid numbing unpleasant feelings with alcohol or drugs. The victims need to recognize their strengths and recall the ways they have successfully handled past hardships, such as the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship or a serious illness. Draw on these skills to meet current challenges. Trust oneself to solve problems and make appropriate decisions.

Seek professional help

People who are experiencing symptoms that are affecting their day-to-day life, should get professional help to get better.


The government should as a matter of urgency include psychologists in the fund management committee set up. The humanitarian services should include an establishment of a Psychosocial Services Aid Center (PSAC) in the community where the people are camped and be easily accessible to all for the provision of adequate professional services for at least the first six months. Make provision for helplines for mental health assistance which would provide referrals for specialized services.

The center will focus on providing special Counselling Services by Psychologists for the people, particularly pupils, women and children as well as youth and adolescent girls. Attention should also be on people who are going through serious stressors. The psychologists would primarily be assessing people’s and their needs, helping them connect to information, helping with social support and protecting them from further psychological harm through counseling.

The media should attract people's attention and propagate the essence of providing a package for the psychosocial needs of the community members.