Millions of Cameroonians went to the polls on Sunday 7 October, to vote for the next president of Cameroon or extend the mandate of the current president by another seven years. While Tchiroma has declared that Biya is leading the elections in the North, and Kamto has told his supporters, metaphorically that he has “scored the goal”, millions of Cameroonians are waiting to know the winner, and this is burning their brains and the country’s economy.
In 2016, Jennifer Sweeton, a trained Psychologists in the US wrote an article for Psychology Today in which she spoke about the impact of “Post-Election Stress Disorder” (PESD). She argued that it ‘is not one of the mental illnesses listed in psychologists’ overly verbose diagnostic manual, the DSM-5, but it is a phenomenon that feels real nonetheless’. ‘Countless Americans are reporting feeling triggered, traumatized, on edge, anxious, sleepless, angry, hopeless, avoidant of connection, alone, and suddenly haunted by past traumas they believed they had buried’ after elections, she continued.
After US president Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, CNN reported that ‘Requests for therapy appointments to Talkspace, an online therapy portal based in New York City, tripled immediately following the election and have remained high through January, according to the company. In particular, Talkspace has seen a steady increase in requests from minorities, including Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Jews, gays and lesbians’.
The point is several studies have shown that elections create trauma’s and psychological disorders. And these negative impact of elections can be made worse when citizens have to wait for two long weeks before getting the final election results.
Dana Milbank says in the Washington Post that in the case of the US, such feelings include ‘Disturbed sleep. Anger. Dread. Weight loss. Overeating. Headaches. Fainting. Irregular heartbeat. Chronic neck pain. Depression. Irritable bowel syndrome. Tightness in the chest. Shortness of breath. Teeth grinding. Stomach ulcer. Indigestion. Shingles. Eye twitching. Nausea. Irritability. High blood sugar. Tinnitus. Reduced immunity. Racing pulse. Shaking limbs. Hair loss. Acid reflux. Deteriorating vision. Stroke. Heart attack’.
A simple review of comments made by ardent political supporters from either CPDM or MRC on Facebook will reveal to you that waiting for the Sunday elections are getting people on the edge and forcing them to experience headaches, fainting, disturbed sleep, anger, hopelessness, among several other problems outlined by Millbank and Sweeton. Does the country have to go through this agony and incur these psychological damages to hire a president? Is there any way we can avoid the burnt out and depression from waiting too long?
More than 8.11 percent of Cameroonians are already suffering from mental health, according to information from the World Health Organisation (WHO). And Cameroon has one of the most underdeveloped mental health treatment facilities in Africa. Adding this problem through long electoral results wait is not carefully thought out policy. Besides, even though there are no good exact estimates of the impact of mental health in the country, from WHO analysis, we can infer that mental health problems are already costing the country billions.