When the call came for them to join the frontline in the fight against the risky and little understood Covid-19, Jimmy Lubel and Grace Labongo did not hesitate to offer their services to the patients, medical workers and staff of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital in Northern Uganda Jimmy and Grace are second year students pursuing the Bachelor of Counselling Psychology at University of the Sacred Heart Gulu. They were recruited to the Covid-19 Treatment Center at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital which is one of the largest treatment center for Covid-19 patients in Uganda. Their recruitment follows recommendations from their various supervisors from Gulu Regional Hospital’s mental Health Unit and St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor epidemiology department.
Jimmy and Grace were called upon to offer counselling and psychosocial support to COVID-19 patients, as well as doctors and hospital staff. At the Covid-19 Treatment Center, the two are responsible for the psychological health of the patients. They also help in preparing and ensuring a smooth reintegration of former COVID-19 positive patients back to their communities. People who have been cured of COVID-19 in Uganda have particularly faced serious challenges in their reintegration to the communities due to resistance and stigmatization on their families as people associate them with the virus.
Jimmy and Grace note that as students of Counselling Psychology, it is their responsibility to help people with physical, emotional and mental health issues improve their sense of well‐being, alleviate feelings of distress and resolve crises. Jimmy and Grace mention that it is “their greatest joy to contribute to “holistic healing” to both COVID-19 patients and to the medical workers. Just like soldiers, medical workers at the hospital also face considerable mental stress; As humans, they feel the sorrow and pain of their patients. They too have families, and so will also naturally be fearful that the virus might reach those they love most”
University of the Sacred Heart Gulu is proud that it is preparing graduates who have a direct positive impact on communities in Northern Uganda. It should be noted that northern Uganda and Gulu has in the past faced very serious and stressful events and epidemics among them being the Ebola disease and the LRA war. The role of Counselling Psychologists can not be under-estimated. We wish Jimmy and Grace all the best in their service to humanity during the fight against COVID-19.