By ZENIT Staff

Faced with the spread of coronavirus and its psychosocial impact on the population, Fr. Jean Messingue, a specialist in clinical psychology and director of ITCJ, the theology institute of the Society of Jesus in Abidjan, in collaboration with Professor Médard Koua, director of the Bouaké psychiatric hospital, has opened a listening and telephone assistance center.

As reported to Fides News Agency, the Center “aims to strengthen the psychological support systems for people who feel the need to find adequate answers to their emotional suffering and the threats that the coronavirus poses to them”, says Fr. Messingue.

Three phone lines are open 24 hours a day, after which two teams of volunteers try to provide the necessary assistance. One is made up of professionals from the Bouaké psychiatric hospital and the other by 25 students from Copac, the Center for professional advice and clinical pastoral care created by ITCJ.

“These students have already followed the certification course”, assures Father Jean Messingue. “A preparatory phase has been carried out on psychosocial crisis intervention and each student carries out an oral test. Professor Koua and I coordinate and supervise telephone interventions”.

The services are free and it is Copac and the Bouaké psychiatric hospital that assume the financial expenses necessary to start and implement the project. Given that telephone lines are not toll-free numbers, “unfortunately those who call must have sufficient credit to hold on average a 30-minute interview”, said Fr. Messingue. Since its opening on March 23, the telephone psychological support center has received dozens of calls from people seeking psychological assistance.

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