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Direct News Feed from
Sichuan Province
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Direct News Feed from
Sichuan Province
UPDATED: May 27, 2009 Web Exclusive
The Way to School Reconstruction
People in the quake zone rebuild their schools and spirits

According to statistics from the Sichuan Provincial Government at the quake's one-year anniversary press conference on May 7, a total of 5,335 students had been confirmed dead or missing in the quake; 2,455 out of 3,340 schools in the 39 worst-hit zones in Sichuan needed restoration or reinforcement; 95 percent of students will move into permanent schools by the end of this year; and all students will move out from temporary shelter schools by the spring semester next year. In addition, a notice issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in early May called for a nationwide project to examine each and every school building across the country for safety flaws and reinforce those in earthquake-prone areas as the first step.

Mental health assistance

For Lu Xin, the first class after the quake at a temporary shelter school remains impressive.

On June 23 last year, Lu, who took classes at a nearby school after the quake, managed to meet with his classmates and teachers. The first class they had was a mental health lecture.

"It was sort of chitchat, helping relieve the impact of the quake," Lu said. "I was so excited to see them again, although the classroom there was tiny."

Lu said he would resort to sports, music and sometimes the mental health consultant teacher to relieve pressure whenever he felt frustrated in study or in life.

"Students are really welcome to take mental health consultations," Li Ling, a mental health consultant teacher at Dujiangyan Middle School, told Beijing Review. "What's more, we are paying more attention to their mental condition, especially during the first classes after the quake."

Li has worked at the school for more than four years. Her daily work includes mental health consultations and student management. Specially designed forms on her desk have detailed information about each disabled student who enrolled on September 1, 2008 after the quake. Li said the form entitles them to scholarships, sponsorship and special mental health consultations.

In late October 2008, with the assistance of a mental health service team from South China Normal University (SCNU), the school took a general survey of the 1,400 newly enrolled Senior 1 students. Each of them has a mental health record book that is totally secret, with follow-up surveys to be held every year until they finish high school in 2011.

Fan Fang, associate professor at the SCNU Center for Studies of Psychological Application, participated in the program from the very beginning, and paid his second visit to the school from May 4 to 10 this year. Besides workshops and seminars for Senior 3 students, one of the highlights of Fan's visit was designing a survey for parents of Senior 1 students.

"Psychological trauma requires a long period for recovery," Fan told Beijing Review. "The survey we did provides scientific analyses and reference for mental health assistance. It also offers suggestions for the school's management group to pay more attention to students' mental health problems; at the same time, it will guide teachers to specify their consultations."

According to Yu Wei, spokesperson for the Sichuan Provincial Government, experts at home and abroad have been integrated to form a five-star mental health service network in the quake zone since last May. Hotlines have been set up and various forms of psychological treatment are available. Moreover, mental health consultant teachers have reached those schools that suffered human losses in the quake.

"Mental health consultation is a difficult task that takes time," Li said. "I'm sure that we will become more professional with the help of SCNU and provide more specific services for students and teachers to manage psychological trauma."

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