President Jonathan on the National Youth Service Corps Members: “will do what is right” including Professional Mental Health Counseling
Our world has a long history of election violence but what makes the April 2011 Nigeria election violence distinct is the reported horrifying death of some National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members.
How many of them actually got slaughtered, severely disfigured, vanished in the bushes or yet to be found remain unknown given our fragile intelligence and forensic power but we know that a good number of service corps members died in various riots across the predominantly Muslim northern States.
As young men and women serving in Nigeria's National Youth Service Corps, a mandatory yearlong service, doing their civic work, little did they know that some of them will fall victim to deadly rioting that tailed the presidential election in particular.
As part of their calling they were helping to run polling stations but most of these corps members happened to be of the Christian and Southern stock resulting in their been murdered, set ablaze, raped and maimed.
These victims reportedly fell to the hands of angry Muslim mobs who saw themselves avenging against the Southern Christian President, Goodluck Jonathan the declared winner of the presidential vote of April 16th, 2011.
There is no doubt that the government will financially compensate many victims, and the families of the sacrificial victims or the dead, as well as give official recognition to the victims.
But what is needed now and more than ever is putting in place crisis-based psychotherapy or counseling plans.
As soon as possible, we need professional form of mental health care assessing for brief and longer-term therapy for the possibly traumatized victims, their children and families.
Please note that this is not 'Oyibo (White people) thing' or plan as depression and anxiety knows no boundary when it comes to race, ethnic, religion or gender.
We will all agree that many victims of this huge and sudden trauma should not be alone to bear the psychological problems of these torturous and ferocious acts. The ones that are fortunate to be alive, and their families will need practical, insightful and humane way to deal with these traumatic worries.
Immediate crisis-based programs manned by competent psychologists, counselors, and clinicians across various regional human and social services agencies should be set up for the care of victims and their families as well as relatives.
In traumatic matters as it relates to this regional violence, feelings of irritation, apprehension, indecisiveness, hopelessness and other likes are expected and the successful management of these issues are essential.
The victims will gain greatly from counseling along with getting empathy, and a focus on the special needs of these vulnerable citizens will be helpful in the long term. The overall wellbeing of these victims needs monitoring as many of them could be struggling with the effects of culture shock as many were reportedly victims of forced confinement, fire traumatization and explosive suffering.
The frontline counselors and clinicians across what could be called or set up as Crisis Drop- in- Centers should be ready for and open to tolerance as they will be seeing persons with responses of all types which could include self-blame, fatigue, uneasiness, acute stress, insecurity, gloom, confusion and loss.
The federal and State governments should be aware that these violent occurrences will cause many non-Muslim northerners living in the north to possibly remain in a state of heightened anxiety both at work, school and in the marketplace. As such, their concerns about more violence should also be followed with various forms of actions like group counseling sessions, inter-community relations counseling, and a short tem neighborhood security or policing in highly sensitive areas of the North.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College - North Campus, Coconut Creek, Florida. [email protected]