In what may appear to be an “abrupt” suspension of debt repayment due to Government’s Debt Restructuring Program (GDRP), a sense of fear, panic and anxiety have been triggered among affected individuals and families in Ghana. Of course, for life to experience a balance, it has been said that a number of physical, psychological, and socioeconomic needs ought to have been met.
According to David Switzer, when one or more of these needs are suddenly cut off from the potential sources of supply it triggers a sense of anxiety, and if this anxiety is not properly managed, the affected person may likely end up in crisis. Therefore, in examining Ghana’s Debt Restructuring Program (GDRP) relative to the psychosocial implication on affected members, it is easy to predict that the Debt Restructuring Program would certainly interfere with the social and economic lives of affected individuals and their families. I am convinced that by now, affected Ghanaians are going through some form of neurotic anxieties as a result of the Debt Restructuring Program; a crisis that many would not be able to wean themselves from.
The DRP and Crisis?
Whereas it may be fair to admit that just by encountering financial freaks, shocks, or hazardous events does not infer that one is in crisis, it could also be argued that whenever hazardous events meet vulnerable conditions, crises would be inevitable. Some scholars have argued that certain events, because of their radical newness in our lives, or because of their particular similarities to earlier situations which have produced great internal conflict or disruption and which have not been adequately resolved, could produce a much greater sense of threat.”
Others simply suggest that “crisis is an upset in homeostasis.” Using the above theories as benchmarks, can we conclude that victims of the GDRP program are currently going through some form of crisis? What could be the nature of this crisis? How are affected individuals and family members coping with the stressors and trauma? Would it possible to quantify the loss people have incurred as a result of the DRP?
In exploring some intervention techniques for affected individuals and families, one may proceed further to ask, what could be done at the family and community level to alleviate the emotional and psychological pain affected individuals and their families go through? What should religious leaders be doing differently at this time to provide holistic health and wholeness for individuals and families going through these crises? What could the government of Ghana do to support affected individuals and their families?
DRP & Its Psychosocial Implications
Having attempted to establish that affected individuals and families of the DRP could possibly be in crisis, it may be prudent to identify some of the symptoms of this crisis. First, affected persons must be made aware of themselves and what they are going through. Second, significant people, friends or colleagues of affected persons must also become aware of what their friends loved ones and colleagues could be going through.
Generally, people in crisis tend to display some “familiar symptoms”. Common ones, however, include: Grief, apathy, feeling of sadness, psychotic episodes, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders or dreams in which they relive the catastrophic experience.
Again, it may be worthy to note that people in crisis go through different phases of the crisis at different times. However, what I consider most critical is what some would refer as the Post-Traumatic Phase (PTP). The PTP is the last phase of the crisis and may usually last for the rest of a person’s life depending on factors such as extent of loss, the help available and whether the crisis was even natural or human error.
Further, the PTP becomes even more critical since future life events of affected members are much dependent on the kind of support they receive. For example, affected members would need a lot of words of hope and encouragement. Interventionists could also explore thoroughly to uncover suicidal tendencies and other potential harm victims might intend to cause to themselves as they guide them to make a good interpretation of what has happened.
Undeniably, situational crisis is comparatively more stressful because the shocks are sudden and unexpected. In Ghana, this form of crisis would be more devastating based on the fact that counselling services entirely are woefully inadequate, inaccessible and in most cases, completely absent for victims.
- Religious leaders should be more proactive and respond swiftly by crafting their sermons to bring hope to affected members. Where such leaders have inadequate training or understanding of the dynamics and complexities involved in crisis, resources persons could be engaged.
- Where families (especially teenagers) are directly or indirectly affected, they must be helped toward a better level of differentiation of their individual self. This is because the less developed a person is, the more impact there is on his or her on their social or cognitive functioning.
- In view of the above points, the government should support and empower research institutes like PALI Global to widen their support for individuals through their Youth Mentoring and Inclusion flagship programs.
- National Commission on Civic Education should intensify campaigns and educate the masses to develop a better understanding of the crisis at hand with significant attention given to how people could identify the inherent opportunities present in this crisis situation.
- Any form of support without due acknowledgement of the crises within the larger context of the traumas and stresses of the family system will only tend to be partial and not holistic.Inspector Akwasi Ofori
Ghana Police Service