Opinion: Grief Counselling and Therapy for Victims: The Aftermath of EndSARS Protest, By Chinna Okoroafor
The circumstances that preceded the # ENDSARS movement and the outcomes of the demonstration have shown that there are large numbers of individuals, looking to alleviate the despair rooted in the experience of traumatisation. The Nigerian youth have been exposed to death and threatened by death for so long, which has […]
The circumstances that preceded the #ENDSARS movement and the outcomes of the demonstration have shown that there are large numbers of individuals, looking to alleviate the despair rooted in the experience of traumatisation. The Nigerian youth have been exposed to death and threatened by death for so long, which has resulted in a desperate fight back. This only shows that there is a need to strengthen various aspects of the Nigerian youth’s well-being: emotional, physical, cognitive and social and the time is now. Those who do not feel the direct impact of the plight of the Nigerian youth have only been able to turn a blind eye to the situation. In the coming months and years, the demands of the youths could be met. However, one factor that is certain is the spike in cases of trauma related illnesses in the youth population, likely to manifest soon. Government and related agencies must consider putting measures in place to urgently address the situation. Untreated trauma diminishes quality of life for the individuals involved and may lead to mental breakdown. It is important to provide the victims and their families, including the officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the legitimate line of duty some professional attention and evaluation.
This is the time to empathise with grieving families, time for trauma processing and grief counselling.To expect that young Nigerian should just get over their feelings will be tragic. Hence those in public service who took oath of office to represent ordinary citizens in the National Assembly, the Judiciary and the Executive should focus on restoring a sense of safety in their constituents by implementing measures to address the situation by providing free counselling centers for Nigerians especially the youth population. The government is aware that the general public have been exposed to violent deaths and violent events in the past few years, which has reached alarming proportions in the last two weeks, after Nigeria celebrated her 60 years of independence.
The Lekki Toll Gate shooting and killing of unarmed youths who were peacefully protesting against brutality by the infamous killers of dreams and future leaders, known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), militarisation of police departments, the serial incompetence and tyrannical government, nepotism, insecurity, politics of godfatherism, corruption, social and structural changes, illustrates the pervasiveness of unrest in Africa’s most populous nation. It is obvious that police violence deeply traumatises those who are targeted by it. It is also traumatising that soldiers who ought to be patriotic were allegedly heard on videos circulating within social media, saying to innocent protesters, who were singing the national anthem and waving the flag, that the flag is not bulletproof. There are some people who experience these traumas vicariously, especially as it relates to watching footage of dead bodies and the countless videos of police violence against protesters in recent days across the country.
Undoubtedly, such violent events will continue to expose more people to emotional, physical, and psychological trauma and also grief. Thus this is neither the time for the Federal and State Governments to remain mute or make speeches that only align with political talking points that break the human spirit, nor the time to issue threats. Contrarily, this is the time for Local, State and Federal Governments to empathise with grieving a nation and work together, enlist experts in the psychological effect of trauma, trained crisis intervention counselors, trauma-informed therapists, social workers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists to provide grief counselling and grief therapy to any bereaved individuals and families needing help.
Evidently, Nigeria has a culture of silencing freedom of expression, so it will likely be difficult to acknowledge the urgency of allowing mourners to heal by sharing their experiences with trained, helping professionals. Grief counseling can be done within the context of a group. This is not only very efficient but can also be an effective way to offer the emotional support the bereaved person is seeking. It does not necessarily have to take place in a professional office. It can take place in a hospital, school environment, church and/or mosque premises, home environment and various other informal settings. Grief therapy, on the other hand, would be more appropriate in a professional setting rather than in a home environment or in an informal setting.
Goals of Grief CounsellingThe overall goal of grief counseling is to help the survivor adapt to the loss of a loved one and be able to adjust to a new reality without him or her. There are specific goals that correspond to the four tasks of mourning: (1) increasing the reality of the loss, (2) helping the counselee deal with both the emotional and behavioral pain, (3) helping the counselee overcome various impediments to readjustment after the loss, and (4) helping the counselee find a way to maintain a bond with the deceased while feeling comfortable reinvesting in life.
Many of the normal grief behaviors may seem like manifestations of depression. Also, Evidence-Based Therapy or Practice EBT/EBP has shown that individuals can be traumatised by seeing images of real violence that didn’t happen to them directly. It is referred to as “vicarious traumatisation”. Sometimes therapists, by talking and working with people who have been through trauma, can go on to have nightmares about the patient’s trauma, or other emotional reactions that impact our day-to-day lives. This leads to therapist burnout.
There’s another piece to it, which is for anyone who has been through trauma, seeing videos of people going through trauma can trigger issues related to his or her own trauma, or symptoms of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) that the individual has dealt with previously. So individuals who were abused in the past by a partner or parent or someone else, might begin to relive those experiences if they see videos of police brutality, even if their trauma was not caused by police brutality. There will also be individuals who would witness and/or watch these footage of human suffering on such a large scale and have somatic, or physical reactions, such as insomnia, nightmare.
Following the apathy, insensitivity and wickedness that resulted in the 20 October 2020 Lekki Massacre, the youths are angry. They are anxious. The feeling of hopelessness stemming from Nigeria’s years of government neglect and police brutality are no longer hidden. Some of the youths may even become suicidal. Majority of them, their family members or friends have experienced police brutality.
Following a traumatic event, it is usual for people to be troubled by memories of what happened and to feel on edge. One of the major hurdles for trauma patients is reducing painful memories and perceptions as they explore and learn to cope with their traumatic issues. Since victims of police brutality and traumatic events may display a myriad of physical and mental health issues. It has become a necessity that the Nigerian government provides counselling units for the general public. However, they must make sure that only trained therapists in Trauma-Informed Care i.e.,“Trauma-Informed therapists” are hired. The professionals should be able to focus on the strengths of individuals seeking therapy and work with them to develop a repertoire of resiliency and trauma-resistant skills. Free psychosocial support,which include structured counseling, case management, care-coordination and psychotherapy is more than ever essential.
It is very important to ensure that only professional therapists are involved. Trauma counseling and therapy is much more different from life coaching, which seems to have evolved in Nigeria now. Not everyone who can deliver motivation speeches is able to provide this service. It is also important that the non professional give way to well trained and licensed persons to provide this much needed service to enable victims receive healing.
Chinna Okoroafor, a licensed psychotherapist, writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A. Read more: Premium Times »
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My sister I hail thee. Nice piece. But they wouldn't listen The Police needs loads of this
#EndSARS Protests: A Balance Sheet Analysis, By Abdul Wahab Oyedokun - Premium Times OpinionThe Nigerian state is work-in-progress, we need not to tear down the edifice because of our divergent political and other ideological views. This is a balanced analysis from a thoroughbred and apolitical analyst. When I read sound and incontrovertible opinions like this, I always feel hopeful that all is not lost for us in Nigeria... God bless this writer...
From #EndSARS to #EndLOOTING: It’s time to heal'The protesters must have learned that protests and strikes against the government, calling for specific changes or entitlements, must end at a negotiation table. If a protest developed spontaneously, leaders quickly must be identified ...' EndSARS Rubbish That's what it is....when one protest. There should be room for dialogue and set time for targets to be meet.just like when workers go on strikes.....it's also key that protest should have leaders to make dialogues quicker . fkeyamo 😱🥴
Edo police parade 126 suspects for jail-break, looting, othersAdeyinka Adedipe, BeninThe Edo State Police Command on Wednesday paraded 126 suspects in connection with the jail-breaks, looting and vandalism in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests which r... A pleasant PM 2u.folow me &ama 4low u imidi8ly am onlin.Lets strts gainin folowas. Sanwo sed his,Army sed drs.If u Luk deep,u'll realize dz men RULING us aint as smart as we R8 dem.Dy arJust more wicked. RT dz Hashtags below 👇 EndSARS LekkiTollGateShooting LekkiMassacre Ewoh!!!! Dem go arrest innocent people Follow me I will follow you back asap 💯💯
Maritime operators seek change, port, border reformsDespite the seaports being closed for about five days, the wreck left behind by hoodlums in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests
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