A psychological treatment center is set to open in Ansan for the victims of the sunken ferry Sewol and their families, according to the Welfare Ministry on Monday.
The Ansan trauma center, scheduled to open within the year, will be the first government-operated institution opened in response to a specific disaster to treat those with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Ansan, South Korea, is home to the majority of the Danwon High School teachers and students who were aboard the ferry Sewol on a school trip.
“The budget for the Ansan trauma center is under discussion and is likely to be settled in the near future, as this is an urgent matter,” a Ministry of Health and Welfare official said.
Nurses, social workers and clinical psychologists who specialize in psychiatric and mental health will be providing care at the trauma center.
The center is likely to become a permanent establishment as “PTSD patients need at least three years of continuous care, and sometimes symptoms show as late as 10 years after a traumatic event occurs,” the Welfare Ministry official said.
A similar institution already in existence is the Gwangju Trauma Center, which was opened to provide general psychiatric treatment to the public in 2011. The majority of its patients, however, consist of those affected by the May 18 Democratic Uprising.
The nine-day riot which occurred in Gwangju in 1980 left hundreds dead after thousands of citizens demonstrated against the military dictatorship of the Korean government.
The government is also considering opening a central psychological support center at Seoul National Hospital to research mental and psychological support methods after a large-scale disaster.
The victims of the Sewol accident who are not Ansan residents can visit their local mental health promotion center to seek help.
By Suh Ye-seul (firstname.lastname@example.org)