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Sichuan students to get counseling
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Psychological counseling will be added to the school curriculum in Sichuan to help counter the possible effects of post-quake mental stress among its pupils, the provincial education department has said.

More than 300 primary and secondary school teachers in 39 counties and cities will work as psychological tutors after attending a training session slated for September, the Chengdu Business Daily quoted the department as saying on Thursday.

The counties and cities, which include the Aba prefecture and the quake's epicenter Wenchuan, are all places that were badly damaged by the magnitude-8 quake.

The counseling will encompass a series of exercises including group discussions, role-playing, games and life value analysis, to help young survivors cope with possible post-quake syndrome, Liu Li, a section chief with the education department, said.

Nine sessions will be held per term for primary school students, and 10 for middle and high school students, she said.

Students will learn important coping strategies and their psychological condition will be recorded during the class, she said, adding that those found to have serious problems will be transferred to medical institutions.

He Shaoyong, deputy director of the department, said more teachers will be trained in the future to meet the growing need for counselors.

The program will be launched in the areas worst hit by the May 12 quake and later rolled out to other parts of the province, he said.

The aim is to have at least one psychological tutor for every 1,500 students within five years, he said.

Prior to the program there was no set counseling classes in Sichuan schools. Students were encouraged to cope with problems alone or with the help of their seniors including teachers and parents.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2008)

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