The Psychiatric Association of Ghana (PAG) is concerned that the explosion at Appiatse near Bogoso in the Western Region may increase the risk of a variety of mental health issues, as well as amplify pre-existing mental health issues in the Appiatse community.
“As Mental Health Professionals, we are aware that disasters like these produce a wide spectrum of Mental Health difficulties at the individual, family, community, and societal levels in the short, medium, and long term,” the organization stated in a statement, adding, “As terrible as the lives lost are, we are also concerned about the disruption of protective services that were previously accessible, as well as the increased risk of a variety of mental illnesses.”
“Following media reports, an emergency team of PAG members were quickly mobilized and deployed to the disaster site to do an initial assessment of the Mental Health impact of this disaster, to provide initial intervention and Specialist Psychiatric consultations and prescriptions to those severely affected. Our initial assessment indicated a traumatized population of close to 900 displaced persons, including 373 extremely vulnerable children.
“Of this, the Psychiatrists deployed were able to provide group psychoeducation after which some severe cases identified, were attended to, including free prescription medications. Preliminary findings included children who reportedly persistently scream at night, children who have gone mute since the explosion, adults who struggle with sleep at night, adults who are contemplating suicide, adults who are consistently crying over loss of loved ones and adults who panic at the least sound.
“These symptoms are consistent with the diagnosis of Acute Stress Reaction, which if not managed appropriately can lead to more severe forms of Anxiety Disorders including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
“Attention must be drawn particularly to the potential impact on the children who stand the risk of severe Anxiety Disorders and regression of their development, with a potential impact on their academic performance.
“The volume of work is enormous and will require a major rapid mobilization of resources to set up multiple mobile trauma treatment centres in the community,” the statement noted.
It added “PAG is therefore calling on all stakeholders and well-meaning Ghanaians to put resources together to tackle the herculean task of averting the potential Mental Health catastrophe in Apeatse. PAG, in addition to the initial assessment and intervention offered, is willing to continue to offer specialist Psychiatric intervention in collaboration with other sister Organizations for victims and families of this community.
“Even as attention and resources are rightfully being channelled towards rebuilding the devasted lives and livelihoods of the victims, we urge all stakeholders to pay close attention to their Mental Health needs as well, because a sound mind, is crucial to a productive restored Apeatse community.”
Source: Richard Mensah Adonu | Join our Telegram Group