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Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
Counseling planned for kids who lost parents to quake
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will begin providing grief counseling to children early next year in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, where more than 1,500 children are estimated to have lost parents to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Under the project, to be undertaken in cooperation with the prefectures, experts along with volunteers who have undergone training will meet with children one on one with the aim of alleviating their grief through personal contact.
The project will represent an upgrade in psychological and medical care for people living in the region who have posttraumatic stress disorder and other problems.
The health ministry believes it is also necessary to provide grief counseling to children who are not showing specific symptoms at the moment, officials said, because it is feared they could later suffer sudden depression.
It will be the first time ever that the central government has provided counseling in the wake of a major disaster.
Young people aged 18 and under who lost one or both parents number 569 in Iwate, 838 in Miyagi and 160 in Fukushima.
The ministry project will also target children who have lost relatives and friends, according to the officials.
Children who wish to receive counseling will be recruited through schools or community organizations, and meetings with volunteers will be set up once a month or every other month at public assembly halls or other venues.
Satomi Takahashi of the grief counseling association said initially around 200 people will be trained before they come in contact with the children who are in need of help.