Thu, Aug 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

KAOHSIUNG DISASTER: Health ministry offers PTSD counseling

Staff writer, with CNA

More than 800 sessions have been held for Greater Kaohsiung residents seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since last week’s gas pipeline explosions and extra workers are in place to provide assistance, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

A program was launched on Friday last week and more than 60 medical personnel and social workers were mobilized in the disaster-affected area, ministry spokesman Wang Che-chao (王哲超) said.

“We are taking a pro-active role in approaching those who might have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder,” Wang said.

A person can develop post-traumatic stress after a traumatic event that results in feelings of stress, fear and powerlessness.

Health workers are being sent to check on the mental health of residents in the two districts impacted by the blasts, 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 professionals ready to take calls around the clock, Wang said.

Since it can take time for PTSD to develop, the mental health services will continue for another two to three months, Wang said.

Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry director-general Frank Chou (周煌智) said it was normal for people to develop acute post-traumatic syndrome — which involves replaying horrifying images and having difficulty sleeping — within a week of a traumatic event. It will be crucial to keep a close eye on victims to see if they are recovering, he said.

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