Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I’ve been thinking and talking with colleagues quite a bit about the situation with the corona virus in the world. There is much to say.
First, I want to note that I am not minimizing the threat of COVID-19. However, I think that talk of it, and concentration on it, has become excessive and obsessive, this to the exclusion of other issues that, in my view, we must work on. Also, I fear that there is a great deal of talk and little or no action. That concerns me greatly, as so much talk will not get us far. I will make some suggestions for action later in this letter.
To start, I think that we are concentrating on corona to the exclusion of many other issues that concern our world. Not the least of these are the physical and psychological effects of other medical diseases, these mostly those of the South and East rather than those of the North and West. I can name quite a few off the top of my head, including malaria, dengue, Leishmaniasis, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and so on. Solving these would reduce the death toll in the world greatly. If public officials really are interested in reducing the number of deaths in the world, then they would ban the use of tobacco products except for therapeutic use. That also would save a huge amount in health care costs.
Further, we are ignoring the psychological effects of conflict and post-conflict situations, this also including the trans-generational transmission of trauma and negative narratives. Working on that would make people in such situations more functional and thus also decrease physical illness as well as psychological distress. In a similar direction, we should be working with former child soldiers. UNICEF says that there are more than 330 000 of them worldwide, and very little, if anything, is done on their psychological state. Reintegrating them and dealing with their traumas is a huge task.
Still other traumatic events include natural disasters.
A very acute issue is migration in Europe, North America, the Near and Middle East, and Asia. Again, few are dealing with the psychological effects of it.
Another issue is poverty and the dysfunctionality that it brings.
These all are highly complex situations in and of themselves.
Corona creates an additional trauma on top of all of these.
Also, neither corona nor all of the issues described above are short-term issues. They have been with us for a long period, and will continue to be with us for a very long time.
Also, as is the general standpoint of the CWWPP, we must begin to work on these issues in an integrated way.
We, as the CWWPP, and I personally, are committed to working with these issues. We believe in action, not only words.
The first point is that there is an enormous lack of capacity. We will not be able to train a sufficient number of professionals to deal with these issues, and with corona, in an adequate amount of time. Thus, in our view, one of the few solutions is to train people previously uneducated in these fields to work with traumatized people. The CWWPP’s Pragmatic Empowerment Training (PET) program, detailed on our website, is designed to do that. We very much would welcome other ideas and approaches.
Further, we need to offer further education and psychological supervision to professionals and others working in the field. Again, we’re willing to do that on a regular basis.
To my mind, we also need to be setting up chat rooms that will work for people in specific places at specific times.
We also need to be offering individual and group therapy to anyone who needs it.
We cannot do this work alone. We must work together not only to get through this specific period but also through all of the other issues, and more, described above. That will take a great deal of work and coordination. I am committed to it and will work in any way I can.
We look forward to hearing from you.