The Development Research and Project Centre is holding a workshop on guidance and counseling for in-school and out-of-school youth with Particular reference to girls.
The organisers are looking at defining trauma and supporting girls grappling with traumatic challenges.
The centre has core competences in qualitative and quantitative techniques for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes and impact of social development projects.
It complies with national and global standards of ethics in social research by ensuring that an informed consent protocol is applied in community and facility based research.
One of the Centre’s Coordinators is a member of the National Health Ethics Committee.
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A presentation by Mustapha Gudaji, head of psychiatry department at Bayero University, Kano, is ongoing.
Mr. Gudaji said the transcient feelings of sadness and disappointment are part of normal life but when it is prolonged it becomes depression.
Mr. Gudaji: People living with PTSD are obsessed with persistent ideas, thoughts, impulse or flash images in their memory.
They also think they are contaminated by germs or that they might hurt someone amongst other hallucinations.
Mr. Gudaji: Depression is common amongst girls. Depression, depressive disorder and anxiety disorder are inseparable. Female gender are more at risk at developing anxiety disorder.
The risk factors of anxiety disorder include: trauma, domestic abuse, marital conflict, etc.
Mr. Gudaji said treating post traumatic stress disorder is a big challenge for mental health experts in Nigeria.
Mr. Gudaji said women experience trauma than men. He cited an example of a 30-year-old woman who was attacked and raped while trying to withdraw cash from ATM but kept quiet about it because of shame.
We should avoid relationship with clients because such may lead to exploitation. Relationship with clients must be kept strictly professional.
Mr. Gudaji said people with trauma typically resort to excessive use of hard drugs and alcohol.
Panel discussion: What are the best practices of treating girls with trauma?
The panelists are: Ibrahim Mshelia, consultant psychiatrist at Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri; Faltama Shettima, psychiatrist from Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri; Babagana Kundi, consultant gynaecologist, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital; and Tijani Lamin, clinical psychologist, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Maiduguri.
Mr. Msheila says there are many girls in the IDP camps with trauma but says unfortunately there are no specific cases they are currently handling.
He says there are no referral schools for trauma victims in the northeast.
He recommended that there should be an evaluation system where girls would be screened for trauma symptoms in the IDP camps.
Mr. Lamin says there is need for psychosocial support for trauma victims.
He said social workers should be properly equipped to give support to the victims, especially girls to avoid creating social crisis.
Mr. Msheila said at the onset of Boko Haram insurgency, there were no provisions in place for victims of trauma to cope with life.
He said doctors at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital were pooling money together to support the victims.
He said the victims support fund put together by the Nigerian government has not made any cash donation to the facility despite its crucial role in helping victims of the war recover.
Mr. Kundi said the capacity of primary health care workers should be improved for effective detection and treatment of trauma.
He said concerned authorities should intensify efforts to help girls with trauma. He said individuals should also educate themselves about trauma.
Mr. Msheila said some agencies that had been helping some of the victims withdrew because they could no longer afford to provide funding.
He said only 20 per cent of Boko Haram victims are in IDP camps, all the rest are living in different settlements across the state and with little care.
Most of the victims are also stressed because of the destruction of their livelihood
A panel discussion on guidance and counselling to build resilience for girls experience trauma in school settings is now underway. It is being moderated by Hamsatu Allamin, an educationist.
Ms. Alamin said acute poverty is amongst the most challenging issues for girls in school settings.
She recommended building their future through counselling and encouragement as critical solutions.
Zainab Girgiri, principal of Government Girls Secondary School, Mafa, Borno State, said out of 738 girls that she admitted to school, only 98 of them remained. She said the rest were either taken away by Boko Haram, got married off to someone or died.
She gave an example of a 12-year-old JSS1 student that was married out by her parents to prevent her from being taken away by Boko Haram.
Ms. Alamin said schoolgirls in Borno State are currently battling with low self confidence, tendency to suddenly burst into tears. These are the issues we have to confront as we enter the post war phase.
A participant, Imam Isah, said religious leaders should be involved in all treatment stages for trauma victims.
A participant, Zarah Ismaili, said teachers should also be given psychosocial support by the government and non-governmental organisations. She said as a teacher in Mafoni Government Day Secondary in Maiduguri, Boko Haram sought to kidnap her on several occasions and it took the grace of God for her to still live to tell her story.
A participant, Aminu Gamawa, said there should be a coordinated effort by all parties, including the media, towards a better northeast post war.
Hauwa Gwoma said most of the schools around Maiduguri have been reopened.
Some schools are locked but their students have been relocated to learning centres. But the citizens are resilient and we are making progress in school enrollment.
Up next: Panel discussion on care and treatment for girls presenting trauma symptoms in IDP situation. What’s the solution?
Members of the panel include: Imam Isah of Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna; Bitrus Dangiwa, also from the same centre; Mustapha Kolo, Sukul Community Development Association, Maiduguri; Tina Olayemi, Samaritan Care and Support Initiative, Maiduguri.
The rest are: Mohammed Hassan, Herwa Community Development Initiative; Halima Laminu, Amirah FOMWAN Yobe and Yagana Ismail, Deputy Amirah FOMWAN Borno.
Ms. Olayemi suggested that apart from going to schools, girls should be trained in entrepreneurship to give them an alternative means of sustaining themselves.
Mr. Kolo decried the humanitarian situation in the northeast as chaotic. He said an acute shortage of financial resources has made it difficult for those who could volunteer for different development activities to operate.
Mr. Dangiwa, a Christian cleric, shared his experience during a visit to IPD camps in the northeast. He said he participated in several rescue missions involving kidnapped victims of Boko Haram.
He said there is also a fierce competition amongst civic groups working in the northeast due to deep-seated stereotypes and suspicion amongst groups of different faiths.
He concluded that the situation still remained quite dire for people of the region.
A participant, ambassador Ahmed Shehu, Chairman Network of NGOs in Borno State, while looking at the roles of the NGO said that the NGOs need support so as to have a concrete structure.
A participant, Msheila Brima, said humanitarian response to Boko Haram victims should be separated from psychosocial support. Doing this will leave us with emotionally sick people who are vulnerable to violent extremism.
Dauda Mohammed from Yobe said all participants should sign up for activities in the rebuilding process of the northeast at the website of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative.
Another panelist, Mohammed Ghuluze, says most of the humanitarian agencies working in the northeast arrived at the region with their pre-designed intervention plans.
He said they hardly seek contribution of locals to identify key areas of urgency and the nature of deprivation the victims are facing. He implored donor agencies to make findings before coming to the region but also seek assistance from community leaders in the region.
Ms. Mukaddas said Bauchi State has guidelines for provision of shelter, economic empowerment and health services.
She said from next week some select nurses are going to be added for better care of the IDPs in the state.
A panel discussion with donor agencies and government regarding care and treatment for girls presenting trauma symptoms just commenced. It is being moderated by Aminu Gamawa.
One of the panelists, Salma Anas-Kolo, country representative of MNCH2 in Kano, said there’s a lack of coordination amongst donors which must be addressed first.
She recommends that Nigerian government should cooperate with donors and give them all support they require.
Halima Mukaddas, Bauchi State Commissioner of Health and one of the panelists, said Bauchi State has been absorbing victims of violent attacks for about two decades, especially those who thronged into the state following riots in Kaduna and some other neighbouring states several years before Boko Haram.
She said the Boko Haram insurgency only compounded the humanitarian crisis in the state.
Ms. Mukaddas said the “Nigerian factor” has continued to hinder efforts of some private and public organisations working to help the IDP. She also noted that NEMA has not been living up to its duties in the northeast.
Recommendations: Non formal classes and skill acquisition should be provided to empower girls, building resilience for children In the communities by providing recreation facilities.
Those in IDP camps should be enlightened more on health education.
Capacity building of the camp officials.
For girls in school, pscho social support should be provided as a curriculum in the school.
Guidance and councillor in schools should be intensified.
For girls In the community, aggressive identification of traumatized girls should be strengthened.
Ensure that there are provisions for social workers in the community.
Empowerment of survivors, those who came out from post traumatic experience.