National

City of Kumamoto to check mental health of 60,000 children after earthquakes

Kyodo

The city of Kumamoto will conduct a survey on the mental health of around 60,000 children, as many are believed to be under stress in the aftermath of the recent fatal quakes that hit the region, according to city officials.

The survey will cover school-age students from kindergarten through high school. They’ll be asked questions such as whether they worry about being alone and if they find themselves on the brink of tears, the officials said.

The Kumamoto Municipal Government has decided to carry out the survey as it aims to reopen local schools by Tuesday. The prefectural education board also plans to increase the number of school counselors to give support to children.

As of Monday, three child consultation centers in the prefecture received more than 40 phone calls seeking advice on how to ease the stress and anxiety experienced by children.

The phone calls revealed some children refuse to go home for fear of aftershocks, while others lose their temper more frequently than before. The major quakes that hit the area in mid-April killed 49 people and left many residents taking refuge at shelters.

“Many parents do not know what to do because they have never experienced something like this before, so they come to us,” an official at one of the child consultation centers said.

School counselors dispatched to evacuation centers have also found children losing their temper all of a sudden, bursting out crying or refusing to speak, the officials said.

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