Psychologists are those amazing people who “work directly with those experiencing difficulties, such as mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. ” Psychology.org
We spoke with Jacob Owusu Sarfo, a young, passionate and very accomplished young psychologist in Ghana to find out what it takes to become a psychologist and his accomplishments in the field.
SHGH: Kindly tell us about yourself and your accomplishments so far.
JOS: I am Jacob Owusu Sarfo, a Christian by faith and the resident Clinical Psychologist at the Eastern Regional Hospital, Koforidua. I am the last of four children and comes from the Eastern Region of Ghana. I had all my basic education at Effiduase Presbyterian School and my second cycle education at Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary, both in Koforidua.
SHGH: Tell us about your journey as a psychologist and your accomplishments so far?
JOS: After completing High School, I proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon, where I read a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and graduated with a first class honors. Undeniably, it was in my undergraduate days that I fell in love with mental health and decided to be a clinical psychologist.
Consequently, I got an admission to read a graduate program in clinical psychology at the University of Ghana after my national service. In the course of my graduate studies, I got so enthused with neuropsychology and wrote the very first thesis in Ghana looking at the neuropsychological functioning and quality of life among people living with Type 2 diabetes.
Following my graduate studies, I worked on several research projects, community services, teaching and clinical appointments. Key ones include; being both a lecturer and the Head (Ag.) of Nursing Department at All Nations University College, Koforidua. I also co-founded KAD International, Ghana – a worldwide human development charity organization that seeks to transform lives with excellence and ingenuity. In addition, I became the first Official Representative in West Africa for the Academic Publishing House Researcher, Russian Federation, which publishes over 50 scientific journals. I also serve as the Co-Chair of the International Network Center for Fundamental and Applied Research’s Institutional Review Board. I am also the first Certified Kangaroo Mother Care Psychologist in Ghana to be trained at the Kangaroo Mother Foundation at Bogotá, Colombia. I am also the Editor-in-Chief for 2 peer reviewed journals; (i) Africa: History and Culture and (ii) the Journal of Advocacy, Research, and Education.
Though young in the field of psychology in Ghana, I am currently the only resident clinical psychologist working with the Ghana Health Service in the Eastern Region. This means that I see all categories of cases [from medical, surgical, pediatric to psychiatric] even outside Koforidua. I also run the first ever Kangaroo Mother Care Psychology Unit in Ghana at the Eastern Regional Hospital for preterm / low birth weight babies who are kept in ‘kangaroo positions’ rather than incubators.
SHGH: Tell us about your work with young people in particular and some initiatives you have to help them.
JOS: Most of my clinical initiatives focus on children and young people.
I will talk about some major initiatives I’ve undertaken in 2017 to help young people. To begin with, I started a group – Suicide Prevention Outreach Team [SPOT] with some colleagues to help ‘SPOT’ and prevent suicide cases as early as possible in Ghana.
SPOT collaborated with the Ghana Education Service in the New Juaben District to visit over 15 first and second cycle schools to screen for mental disorders and to provide psychoeducation on suicide prevention. I have also visited churches, youth groups, and some corporate institutions like UMB, Barclays Bank Ltd to offer similar services on suicide prevention and depression.
I’ve recently started an initiative called “Project Discovery” in partnership with the production crew of ‘Boyz Room’ on Good Life 105.5 Fm. This ‘Good Life campaign’ is designed to help young people and even children to identify their brain dominance, learning styles, and their possible future careers. I want to help Ghana’s young minds to discover who they are and what they can do best, instead of being dictated to by their families and other externals.
I have also conducted several online and mobile phone therapies for young people with smart phone addiction, anxiety, depression etc. I’m looking for funding to start an ultra modern psychosocial center in the Eastern Region. This will provide psychological services, mentoring for young people, internship offers for trainee psychologists, and research support. I think psychology, in general, should be used as a tool for national development and Ghanaians should have access to all the available psychological services in the country, the Ghana Psychological Association, and the Ghana Psychological Council.
SHGH: What do you do in your spare time?
JOS: My hobbies include listening to music, reading, painting and interacting with people from different cultures.
SHGH: How can people reach you?
JOS: I can be reached at the Mental Health Unit at Eastern Regional Hospital, Koforidua.
Personal mobile phone / WhatsApp contact: +233 (0) 246 485 735.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jowususarfo