Japan: Psychological care for quake-hit orphans
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Last Updated: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 15:05
Tokyo: Japan will start providing grief counselling to children early next year in the three northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, where over 1500 children are estimated to have lost their parents to quake and tsunami, sources said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry here will undertake a project in cooperation with the prefectural governments, experts and trained volunteer staff. One-on-One meet with affected children is aimed to alleviate grief through personal contact, the sources said.

The project will represent an enhancement of psychological and medical care for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and other symptoms in the region.

The ministry believes it is also necessary to provide grief counseling to children who are not showing any specific symptoms at the moment, the sources said, because it is feared such children could later suffer from sudden depression.

It will be the first time that the central government provides such care in the wake of a major disaster.

The number of children aged below 18 who have lost either or both parents is estimated at 569 in Iwate, 838 in Miyagi and 160 in Fukushima.

The ministry project will also target children who have lost other relatives or friends, according to the sources.

Children who wish to receive counseling will be recruited through schools or community organizations. Meetings with volunteer workers will be set up once a month or every other month at public assembly halls or other venues.

In Miyagi Prefecture, a civic group called the Sendai Grief Care Association and other groups have already been providing such care. The ministry is planning to work with the groups and start its project initially in the cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki in the prefecture, the sources said.

Satomi Takahashi of the grief counseling association said they plan to train around 200 people who will get in touch with affected children and extend their activity to other cities.


First Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 15:05

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