The No. 520 Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has sent its psychologists to assist local people in earthquake-hit areas in Sichuan Province, southwest China, according to military sources.
So far, these PLA psychologists have treated more than 1,000 people injured in the quake and their relatives, helping them to relax and recover their confidence, through lectures, face-to-face discussions and other means.
Hundreds of psychologists, both military and civilian, have arrived in the affected areas of last week's powerful earthquake, which has left many injured and even more homeless. More psychologists are on their way to the area, in response to pleas through the media for immediate psychological help for the victims.
Meanwhile, many psychological pamphlets are being distributed to the affected people, including one covering the treatment of children, particularly orphans, following a deadly catastrophe.
Domestic experts have advised rescuers to gain some psychological knowledge before dealing with the earthquake victims. Give more hugs, smiles and encouragement to the affected children, while allowing them to cry and express themselves, said some experts.
Shi Kan, a psychologist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua that timely psychological intervention could help reduce the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among the affected people, particularly children.
After the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake, which killed more than 240,000 people in Tangshan City, Hebei Province, north China, 23 percent of orphans became PTSD patients.
Moreover, he also advised giving psychological treatment to military and civilian rescuers, medical workers and media people participating in the earthquake relief.
Shortly after the quake, a children's foundation under the All-China Women's Federation set up a special fund to assist orphans, which aims to cooperate with relevant institutions in the daily care, psychological treatment and education of these children.
Wang Xingjuan, president of the Beijing-based Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center, said her organization plans to open special hotlines for the affected children, in addition to its existing hotlines to help women.
(Xinhua News Agency May 20, 2008)