You just coordinated a dialogue on climate change impact on mental health in sub-Saharan Africa. Could you introduce yourself and what this project is all about?
I am Professor Kenneth Yongabi Anchang, the regional community convenor for connecting climate minds sub-Sahara Africa.
This project is aim to better understand the impact of climate change on our mental health and area that affect us but we hardly really talk about it.
I’m working with a core team coordinated by Dr. Emma Lawrance, of the institute of global health innovation and climate cares, Imperial College London, who is the core leader of this project supported by welcome trust UK. The same project is coordinated in seven (7) regions globally.In sub-Saharan Africa, I’m working with core convenors as a team with professor Monika Dos Santos, University of South Africa (UNISA), Dr. Patience Erick at the university of Botswana, Professor George Osanjo at the university of Nairobi Kenya and Martin Muchangi Director of population health and environment, Amref.
The team also includes Dr. Manasi Kumar at Agakhan University in Kenya, The brain and mind institute and Professor Ibrahim Choji, senior research fellow at the national institute for policy and strategic studies, Kuru Jos, Nigeria.
So the regional community secretariat for connecting climate minds sub-Saharan Africa is domicile at Claratian University, Imo state, Nigeria.
AIM OF THE PROJECT
The project is aimed to understand the connection between climate change impacts on mental health. The effect of flood, extreme drought, Cyclones, heat wave, affects us physical, socially and mentally.
It generates stress, increase in anxiety, emotions, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many others that we encounter but remains undiagnosed.
The Ultimate goal of this entire exercise is to enable us build a network of scientists and experts, policy makers in the field of climate change and mental health interception in SSA, create awareness on the harrowing effect of climate as triggers of mental health issues.
This dialogue is enabling us to listen to lived experiences of climate change hazards and mental health hazards from victims and affected community members across SSA.
It’s enabling us to better understand this complex issues so as to generate a research action agenda, appropriate policy, and appropriate community of practice that can generate psychosocial support to affected persons and communities and build climate mental health resilience.
GLIMPSE OF A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The first dialogue was huge success with key climate and mental health participants across the continent. Participants generally acknowledged the limited understanding of climate change impact on mental health. Our awareness have started to increase and with this increase in understanding of the subject, a glimpse of a better understanding of climate change impact on mental health is enabling us to develop an appropriate research action agenda for SSA. The conversation continues, it’s not a one-stop-shop, and that is why the second dialogue comes up on October 23rd, 2023.
In LINDOKUHLE SIBIYA words, she said’ Actually I felt there was a huge need for such advocacy about our objectives and goals pertaining climate change and mental health. It’s been ignored for quite some time now we need to take action
She further mention that “We need to vividly educate communities on climate and mental health and basically about what or how they as a community can contribute in ensuring that there’s no further damage in our communities but instead they’re willing assisting in change. I believe community’s dialogues including training on these topics will enable communities to make informed decisions.