Red Cross to set up psychological support teams

By Zhou Jing
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 20, 2011
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The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) is planning to establish long-term psychological support mechanisms to assist people suffering from post-disaster trauma, an expert told in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

Wo Jianzhong, a psychology professor from Beijing Normal University. []

"We have been discussing a plan to provide long-term psychological assistance to survivors," said Wo Jianzhong, a psychology professor from Beijing Normal University who is advising the RCSC.

Wo said the RCSC plans to establish teams of trained volunteers in all of China's provinces. The volunteers will have to complete short-term RCSC training courses before being allowed to work.

The trained volunteers will be able to offer general and effective help to people suffering from mild psychological problems following disasters, Wo said. But professional psychologists will be sent to help those in more serious difficulties.

In this way, no matter where the affected people are or how serious their psychological problems are, the RCSC will be able to help them, Wo said.

"We have created teaching and training materials and we are ready to start whenever people want to join the volunteer teams."

The proposal coincides with the third anniversary of the devastating May 12, 2008 earthquake which claimed around 80,000 lives in southwest China. .

Wo said that after three years, most survivors of the earthquake have mentally and physically recovered. But some people take more time to recover than others and will need psychological assistance for some time yet.

He cautioned that focusing too intensely on survivors might in itself add to the pressure on them and delay their psychological recovery. "We should treat them as normal people," he said.

Disasters like this year's Japan earthquake and tsunami cannot be predicted or controlled, so people need to improve their mental resilience and their ability to remain positive in the face of major changes in their lives. Learning basic survival, evacuation and rescue techniques is also useful, Wo said.

The 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake occurred at 2:28 pm on May 12, 2008 in southwest China. It was the deadliest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed at least 240,000 people.

The Chinese government set a goal of rebuilding the region within three years. Official figures reported by Xinhua show that 37 cities and towns, 2,915 schools, 4,543 km of highways and 26,000 km of countryside roads have so far been rebuilt in Sichuan.

Over the past three years, China has spent 1 trillion yuan (around US$154 billion) on the reconstruction effort.

( by Zhou Jing May 19, 2011)

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