Psychological care for Urumqi riot trauma victims

Source: [09:08 August 07 2009]

Urumqi authorities have launched a massive psychological support campaign to help cope with the effects of the July 5th incident. Doctors and psychologists, and community workers are making efforts to help those who suffered serious shock and are now suffering from post-traumatic syndrome, or even depression. Our reporter Pan Deng followed their work in a badly-hit community and found how they help those in need.

This little food shop was severely damaged by rioters on July 5th. The owner told us that all the windows and shelves were completely smashed. Nearly all the store's commodities were stolen. The couple hid behind a small door and witnessed the violence.

Shop Owner, said,“Our total loss was about 10 thousand yuan and we have spent another 10-thousand rebuilding the shop, which is our livelihood.”

But beyond the economic losses, the owner's disabled wife was psychologically scarred by the events. Since then, the middle-aged lady has suffered physical pain and insomnia.

Xu Xiangdong is one of Xinjiang's top psychologists. He now leads the campaign to help victims and witnesses of the riots to recover.

In a professional session with the shop-keepers wife, Xu tried to identify what was causing the pain and to ease the patient's tension. The session lasted for 45 minutes. Besides soothing words, Xu Xiangdong also prescribed her medicine.

Usually, the best timing to treat this kind of patient is within 6 weeks of the trauma. As one month has passed since July 5th, the clock is ticking.

Xu Xiangdong and his colleagues follow community workers who distribute forms. These are designed to quickly identify any symptoms among those living in the worst-hit areas of the riot.

They work everyday, but there are still 10-thousand households to visit with less than 2-weeks remaining of the ideal period for counseling.

The Urumqi government has dispatched an initial budget of 3 million yuan to support the campaign. Xu Xiangdong hopes psychological support could last for 3 years, since it's not only about the cure, but also the long-term care.