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VOA Our Voices 332: COVID19's Toll on Women's Well-Being

Updated: Nov 12

Sigmenish Yekoye: I recently had an opportunity to speak with Johnwick Nathan, An American healthcare expert with extensive experience working in Ghana.

Johnwick Nathan: It is oftentimes triggered by trauma. And as you know there is a great deal of trauma, there is a lot of trauma that happens. So for a person, for example if they see their parents shot and killed or they have their sibling abducted. Or to just be completely mistreated or have trauma solely based on just being on the streets.

JWN: There’s a lot of things that would seem uncommon or wrong in our eyes but would be common to them. Mental illness is now overlooked because things are so common that they’re not aware or I would imagine not necessarily educated and or have the resources to address it.

Sigmenish Yekoye: It's also the most disregarded health problem in Africa. Treatments are barely available. How does that look like in Ghana?

JWN: Treatment in Ghana as of right now, specifically there’s not a lot of opportunity there. So I understand what it takes to actually help a person go from the current situation to where we would like things to be. There’s a program now at their department. Well a department is just a revolving door, they come to a hospital for an emergency then they leave right back out. And then they go back in with another emergency.

JWN: We’re not really helping the core problem. So I asked myself “Where are the counselors? Where are the psychiatrists? Where are the therapists? Where are the social workers who are out there kind of helping. Because these are all of the things that I have in my companies.

Sigmenish Yekoye: Now COVID-19 is having a massive impact on mental health in Africa. How will this impact, has your work been impacted by this pandemic?

JWN: I believe that a lot of people have been affected by the pandemic. If anything its made it worse. In 2020, it was the first time in a long long time, since the flu epidemic. So imagine all of the people who have not been serviced. Imagine all of the people who have not been seen. Imagine the cases of mental illness that have just sat around. Imagine use of drugs. They’ve skyrocketed.

JWN: If anything, we have a much greater problem than we’ve ever had. The worst thing you can do for an addict or anyone who suffers from a mental illness is to put them in a box. And that’s what COVID-19 has done in this past year. In some places its still doing it to some people. Now we work via video call which they call tele-health

JWN: We have to- I look at it as an opportunity to be honest with you. Now the only problem is how do you do that in a third world country that does not have the resources that we do. We have a multitude of different aspects of my client’s treatment. My patients’ treatment that we are actually able to control. Whether it be the group home aspect, whether it be the primary care aspect, whether it be from the counseling aspect, so in other words I want to create a systematic approach to our admission program. To make sure that everyone is safe, and once in a group home you have access to our clinic. Once they’re in the clinic they’re with our doctors, They have access to our casework, and to our medications. Now we have been able to control the actions of our people directly.

JWN: These are the plans that I’ve made prior to the pandemic. It just so happens that we have put these things in place and then the pandemic happened. It worked out perfectly, because our clients did not need to leave our facilities, to go elsewhere to receive treatment.

Sigmenish Yekoye: Do you only work in Ghana or do you have other programs in other countries?

JWN: So just to clarify, the project in Ghana hasn’t been commenced yet. We’re raising awareness, just to clarify that. That project is what we want to do, as it pertains to what I do. I do the services in the US right now and thats where we’re experiencing success.

JWN: As it stands right now, in half a year, as my company is fairly new, from the time we began to now we’ve upped to 150 people. Do all of them succeed? No because they need to figure it out. A person has to make that decision. Aside from that, what’s happening is that we are now looking at our range. How can we better that project? So my team and I are coming up with a plan, I don’t want to disclose just yet. That will be to help the masses, to where we are supporting millions of people versus a brick and mortar structure and having people come in there.