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China Daily Website

System deals with psychological impact

Updated: 2013-04-17 07:59
By Sun Ye ( China Daily)

Since 2003, China has developed a system to cope with the psychological aftermath of major public catastrophes such as earthquakes and epidemics.

The system is put into motion at the onset of a public event. It distributes authoritative information, quashing rumors that can lead to widespread panic. In the case of an epidemic it will distribute early information about the nature of the illness, precautions that should be taken and treatments.

The system is implemented at the county level. After the incident, there will be an analysis of the effect the incident has had on mental health in the area. Doctors and counselors will be trained to address the psychological problems of the affected. After the 2008 earthquake, psychological clinics were set up in counties in Sichuan province.

Designated doctors also make periodic visits to those affected after the event so any underlying problems that were not immediately apparent can be treated.

Xi Yingjun, doctor with Beijing An'ding Hospital, who attended several such psychological interventions, says the system was partly a reaction to SARS because psychological intervention was relatively undeveloped back then. "During SARS, there were no precautionary measures. A problem came up, and we shot it." The system gradually took shape and was tested in the 2008 earthquake. Since then, the system has continued to improve.