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An Explanation of the System of Psychological Rehabilitation Services After the Penghu Airplane Accident

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-07-24
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

A TransAsia Airways passenger flight crashed in Penghu’s Hsi-hsi Village near Magong Airport on July 23, 2014 after takeoff from Kaohsiung International Airport on a scheduled flight to Penghu. This airplane accident resulted in high numbers of fatalities and injuries among crewmembers and passengers, and has had severe psychological implications for local residents. In response to the psychological rehabilitation services necessary since this airplane accident, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) activated a disaster-related mental health plan immediately after the accident. The plan comprises the following: 

1. Mental health specialists are to provide outreach and psychological support in funeral homes and assess the mental health needs of those affected by the accident: On July 24, the MOHW asked Penghu Hospital to assign a psychiatrist and a psychologist, together with two staff members from Penghu Countys community mental health center, to set up an outreach station in the funeral homes’ waiting rooms to provide psychological support for victims’ families. Mental health specialists will continually provide on-site mental health services, and, if necessary, refer patients to psychiatric professionals. 

2. The MOHW has notified the primary psychiatric hospital in the Kaoping Regional Mental Health Network: On the night of the accident, the MOHW notified the primary psychiatric hospital in the Kaoping Regional Mental Health Network (Kaohsiung Municipal Kai-Syuan Psychiatric Hospital) to immediately organize and form a team to discuss and expedite psychological rehabilitation services, as well as to organize support personnel. For example, because the mental health needs of both victims’ families and local residents have exceeded the capacity of the Public Health Bureau of Penghu County, the main psychiatric hospital, therefore, promptly designated specialists, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, to support the Public Health Bureau. 

3. The Public Health Bureau of Penghu County is mobilizing public health nurses from the local health centers for visitations and screenings: Public health nurses from local health centers, under the guidance of the Public Health Bureau, and in collaboration with village officials, visit and provide outreach services to residents near the crash site. They also carry out disaster-related psychological screenings to screen for high-risk populations. Routine follow-ups and outreach services are also conducted to prevent residents from developing severe post-traumatic stress disorder. 

4. By dialing the 24-hour prevention hotline (0800-788-995), local residents affected by the accident can receive free psychological consultations and support services. All major media companies have been notified via official documents to offer free prevention hotlines to the public. 

5. Coordination of non-governmental volunteers and organizations with the aim of providing multi-faceted psychological rehabilitation services: If families of the victims, witnesses of the accident, and even rescue workers, after having gone through this traumatic event, develop psychological and physiological symptoms such as anxiety, fear, helplessness, insomnia, agitation, numbness and alienation, they can consult the Public Health Bureau’s community mental health centers or local hospitals’ psychiatry departments for subsequent psychological need assessments. These assessments are a preventive measure to reduce the chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. The Public Health Bureau also provides outreach visitation services tailored to the public’s needs. 

The MOHW’s mental health education pamphlet (appropriate for the general public and rescue workers) will be available on the MOHW’s website for the general public and rescue workers.