Health Ministry preparing for mental health relief after blasts
Central News Agency
2014-08-06 11:47 AM
Taipei, Aug. 6 (CNA) Local residents have been treated more than 800 times for post-traumatic stress disorder since a series of gas explosions tore through Kaohsiung late last week and extra workers are in place to provide assistance, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. A mental health care program was launched immediately after the explosions hit on July 31 and Aug. 1, and over 60 medical and social workers were mobilized in disaster-affected areas, said Health Ministry spokesman Wang Che-chao. "Under the program, we are taking an active role in approaching those who might have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder," Wang said. A person can develop PTSD after encountering traumatic events -- such as the explosions -- that result in feelings of stress, fear and powerlessness. Health workers are being sent to affected areas to check on the mental health of residents, and the ministry is building closer ties with ward chiefs to make it easier to approach those who may need help, Wang said. Individuals who have had trouble getting help can call a toll-free hotline -- 0800-788-995 -- that has a team of 40 health professionals ready to take calls around the clock, Wang said. Because some people take a relatively long time to develop PTSD, the mental health services will continue for another two to three months, according to Wang. Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry director-general Frank Chou said it was normal for people to develop acute post-traumatic syndrome -- which involves replaying horrifying images in one's mind and having difficulty falling asleep -- within a week after experiencing a traumatic event. It will be crucial to keep a close eye on victims of the explosions between the second to fifth week from the time of the blasts to see if they are recovering or are developing further frustrations, Chou said. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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