The Nigerian Psychological Association (NPA) says Nigerians need strong psychological adjustment to cope with the realities of Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
Prof. Michael Ezenwa, National President of NPA, told Newsmen on Sunday in Awka, Anambra, that there was need to include Psychologists as members of the management and containment teams at all levels to provide expert services.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic required psychological adjustment in the social interaction of people, both as a way of avoiding infection and also for coping with the disease.
He commended efforts of the Federal and Lagos State Governments for their ability to manage the situation which had kept fatality at an impressive rate.
These measures according to him, included the setting up of response team, closure of all borders, fumigation of locations considered to be critical in control of the pandemic and the recent lockdown.
“While these measures are important, NPA regrets the non inclusion of psychologists in the COVID-19 national response team, task forces and other levels of engagement to enhance better outcome.
“It is important to emphasise the fact that Nigeria requires two major approaches if she must defeat this pandemic – these are attitudinal change to prevent fresh infections and management of identified cases, which requires major input from psychologists.
“For example, handshaking and social intimacy are integral aspects of our social realities and introducing changes in these areas of behaviour requires major evidence-based contributions from psychologists.
“Given the number and expertise of psychologists in the country, Nigeria cannot afford to ignore such a resource to save the people, the economy and other capital within the shortest possible time,” he said.
He feared that there would be heightened anxiety and uncertainty which could result to depression, nervous breakdown and possible mental disorder, hence the need for professional psychological support.
“Already, many cases of Chloroquine poisoning, non compliance with government and experts’ directives, the disbelief by some persons in the reality of the disease and similar undesirable conducts that resist the control efforts have been reported.
“Psychologists can help to reduce the high level of anxiety, worry, and uncertainty and panic behavioural patterns in the population, psychological support is extremely needed by persons in isolation, in treatment and by their relations.
“Persons that develop fear, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance use disorders or other stress reactions as a result of the control measures including the lockdown need support.
“In the light of the foregoing, the NPA calls on federal and state governments, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the COVID-19 response teams and task forces at all levels to integrate psychologists within their ranks to enhance ongoing efforts.
“Indeed, it is high time psychological services are included as part and parcel of our national emergency response as there is no health without mental health all over the globe.
” We thank many patriotic Nigerians and organisations that have donated generously in cash or kind to support government’s efforts at containing this pandemic.
“We called on receiving agencies to make the best use of these resources for the overall benefits of Nigerians,” he added.