By Adelola Amihere
Worried by the attendant effects on the mental and psychological state of persons living in the Northeast due to insurgency attacks, the Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiatives (PCNI) has engaged the services of NEEM Institute, to create, publish and distribute a framework for mental health and psychosocial service delivery in North East Nigeria.
By this partnership, NEEM is to ensure the rehabilitation and mental health of those affected by insurgency in the North-East as well as build capacities of staff in first line response institutions and staff of other strategic social institutions in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
Disclosing this in Abuja on Wednesday, Vice Chairman, PCNI, Tijani Musa Tumsah lamented that the Boko-Haram insurgency has placed significant psychological and social stress on individual, family and community levels across the North-East region.
According to him, “There is no doubt that the citizens of the North-East region, particularly the frontline states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe state have continued to suffer various levels of trauma, requiring urgent and sustained attention as they resume their lives.
“The degree of distress varies and as such, our approach should be tailored to accommodate the needs of the internally displaced persons, the host communities and even the care givers.
“Most people cope with difficult experiences and they become more resilient if a supporting family and community environment is available. Some people are more vulnerable to distress however, especially those who have lost or have been separated from family members or who are survivors of violence themselves.”
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, NEEM Institute, Dr. Fatima Akilu while pointing out that the frameworks that are already in existence are not comprehensive and broad enough, underscored the need for Nigerians to be in the front line of delivering mental health services in the country.
She argued that: “Many organisations, mostly international development partners are working on mental health frameworks.
“We felt that it was important that it should be driven by Nigerians and, as you can see, it is all Nigerians, because we are the ones who understand our culture, we understand the nuances, we understand our people better and it should not always be top down.
“So we felt that in this partnership we could provide much more broader approach to how service provision should be delivered as far as mental health is in the country.”
The target beneficiaries include Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs), Teachers and Social Welfare officers.