Pulka people in dire need for more mental health support

MSF’s mental health team engages children in an outdoor recreational activity to encourage them to express themselves, in a bis to help identify who needs mental health support. Pulka, Nigeria, July 2019 MSF’s mental health team engages children in an outdoor recreational activity to encourage them to express themselves, in a bis to help identify who needs mental health support. Pulka, Nigeria, July 2019 Abdulkareem YakuBU/MSF

5 August 2019

While life conditions in Pulka, Nigeria, gradually worsen, more mental health support is indispensable

When a country is affected by a conflict and violence, civilians are exposed to both physical and psychological suffering. 

This is what happens in Pulka, a Nigerian town set in a close vicinity to the frontline of the conflict between the military and non-state armed groups. As a result, more than 40,000 Nigerian people have been displaced from their homes  across the Borno state. The absence of civil authorities allows the military to exercise full control over Pulka which leads to instability in everyday lives leads by the population. 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff is taking care of patients struggling with depreciating mental health, caused  by the constant volatility and lack of safety. Amongst MSF’s patients, violence is the main cause of disorders connected to mental health. People are forced to endure severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as constant worry or excessive fear,  symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and psychiatric symptoms. In addition to adults, mental instability is often experienced by children, since they have gone through distressing situations such as losing their parents and relatives. Mohammed Abba and his family fled their village after it was taken over by an armed group. He is in Pulka’s camp number four while his family is located in Monguno. When he falls asleep, he relieves the moment when nine of his relatives were killed. Due to this traumatic experience, Abba is now suffering from mental health problems. Mariya Duniy finds life meaningless after four of her nine children were killed. Without them, Mariya is depressed and anxious about the future:“none of my children will bury me when I die”. 

MSF is committed to provide relief to their patients:  “We are addressing people’s mental health needs because they generate high levels of suffering and, if neglected, could metamorphose into severe mental health problems that can only be treated with psychotropic drugs,” says Retsat Dazang, clinical psychologist and supervisor of MSF’s mental health and psychosocial support team in Pulka. Unfortunately, there is not enough humanitarian response: “There is an urgent need for reinforcement of the humanitarian response in Pulka,” says MSF project coordinator Stine Jensen: “We need other organisations to help cover people’s basic needs, especially in terms of shelter, water and protection, including mental healthcare.”

 

To read more, visit:

https://www.msf.org/more-mental-health-support-needed-people-pulka-nigeria

https://newsfortomorrow.com/index.php/2019/08/05/more-mental-health-support-needed-for-people-in-pulka-nigeria/

 

Author: Giulia Francescon; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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