Centre partners security stakeholders to manage post-traumatic stress disorder

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By Olasunkanmi Onifade

The Office for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience (OSPRE) has announced its partnership with the Synapse Services and the Centre for Psychological Medicine to address mental health issues among security personnel.

The Director General of OSPRE, Chris Ngwodo, made this known during a roundtable on mental healthcare for personnel of the armed forces, security services and law enforcement agencies on Friday in Abuja.

The event was to commemorate the World Mental Health Day with commandants and representatives of medical corps and units from the defence, security and law enforcement sectors.

Ngwodo said mental health challenges of security personnel have adverse impact on combat readiness and undermined civil-military and civil-security relations.

He said it create reputational and operational problems for agents of the state, and sows alienation between civilian communities and security agencies.

Ngwodo stated that the mental health of combatants was a public health issue especially with respect to the reintegration of veterans back into civilian life.

“Unaddressed mental health challenges can be deeply problematic for the families of serving personnel, and can have an adverse impact on the psyche of children, for instance, and thus create a chain reaction of psychological trauma,” he said.

A Consultant Psychiatrist with Synapse Services, Dr Vincent Udenze, called for quality mental health services and the role of the private sector in providing essential healthcare, counseling and other forms of support to security agents.

He noted the strides that various security institutions had made in addressing the mental health needs of officers, he stressed that these efforts need to be consolidated.

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Udenze therefore urged stakeholders to collaboratively improve the quality of mental healthcare provided for security personnel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roundtable deliberated on the rationale, conception and implementation of the programme and its benefits for the nation’s security establishment and the country at large.

The forum discussed a proposal to establish the Combat Rehabilitation Support and Trauma Service (CRESTS), a multi-agency joint facility for the care of personnel of armed forces, security services and law enforcement agencies to address post-traumatic stress syndrome and other complex disorders arising from combat-related stressors.

The forum included representatives of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force, Defence Headquarters and the Office of the National Security Adviser as well those of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Others are the Department of State Services, the National Park Service, the Nigeria Correctional Service, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, who all agreed on the need to pool resources to promote specialised treatment addressing the mental healthcare needs of their officers.

They endorsed the proposed Combat Rehabilitation Support and Trauma Service (CRESTS) as the ideal vehicle for advancing the cause of world class care for their personnel. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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