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Mental health check for quake victims
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-29 07:42

Mental health checks will be offered to people affected by the Sichuan earthquake nearly one year after the disaster that killed at least 90,000.

The testing follows the suicide of 33-year-old Beichuan official Feng Xiang whose eight-year-old son was killed during the magnitude-8 earthquake on May 12.

Beichuan officials will undergo mental health checks by tomorrow, its government announced on Monday.

Officials assessed as having mood swings or abnormal behavior patterns will be given special attention and care.

The government told local officials to take more rest and not work too hard, but there is still much reconstruction work to be done in the city.

Meanwhile, a mental health center will be established to help local residents with counseling and any mental health problems.

"The mental status of our officials is basically fine," said Feng Bin, deputy director of the Beichuan department of organization. "They are working very hard and the government is paying great attention to their mental health."

"Officials who lost their relatives are under much more pressure than ordinary people," psychologist Xia Lingxiang said. "A long-term mechanism to address their mental stress must be set up to avoid such tragedies."

(China Daily 04/29/2009 page5)