The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, has said some level of fear is needed in the anti-Covid-19 campaign in order to deter citizens from flouting health experts’ directives.
Speaking on Joy News’ Upfront, Dr. Osei said “some amount of fear I keep saying is respectable, it is a healthy fear. In fact if you don’t have that amount of fear you will lose guard, and you’ll not go through the necessary sanitary measures that you need to go through; washing your hands, in fact the social distancing.”
His remark follows Ghana’s Covid-19 statistical report which indicates the country’s rate of Covid-19 infection is relatively low. About 50,719 people have been tested for the virus out of which only 636 have tested positive, signifying 1.3 per cent of the whole.
Dr Osei said despite the low numbers, some amount of fear and anxiety will be necessary to keep citizens in check.
He said when people begin to fear and “respect” the illness they would better appreciate the social distancing directive.
“Many people who ignore the rules of social distancing just don’t have enough respect for the illness. So some amount of fear, some amount of respect and anxiety is perfectly normal and it‘s needed for us to be able to contain it. But beyond that, that is what becomes dangerous,” he reiterated.
He, however, cautioned against fear-mongering.
According to the doctor, the application of too much fear could potentially lead to dire consequences including panic induced deaths.
He, therefore, advised that communicators give accurate information about the virus and containment measures, and end their messages with a message of hope to reduce the amount of fear instilled, as against showing videos of dead bodies being carted away to morgues as is being done in the Western media.
“But how many people will pause and look at that and say ‘even if statistically my chances of getting it are low’ – they only look at the overall picture and especially what we are getting form the foreign media; bodies being wheeled and not enough space in the mortuary or in the cemetery.
“All these things create a lot of fear and anxiety, and that’s why I say if you give accurate information, let people know exactly, plus you end it with hope, the anxiety will go down a lot.
“And the important thing is that we don’t let the anxiety overcome us otherwise the virus may be there, it may not get to us but our own anxiety and panic might kill us,” he explained.