（来源：China Daily Global ）
China's internet-based medical firms are stepping up efforts to offer psychological support to those in need. The efforts come amid rising concerns that the aftermath of the novel coronavirus outbreak may see a potential rise in people with mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is a mental disorder that can affect survivors of traumatic events like natural disasters, horrific crimes, wars, unexpected personal loss and untimely death of loved ones.
So, Chinese internet-based healthcare enterprises are proactively offering psychological assistance services. Such services are in addition to their free online consultations for physical health.
On Jan 27, Hangzhou-based WeDoctor joined hands with Wenzhou Kangning Hospital Co Ltd, the Zhejiang Mental Health Promotion Association, and related social welfare organizations to launch a psychological assistive zone online.
The 24/7 service includes self-assessment and self-diagnosis, and expert consultation. According to WeDoctor, more than 1,000 psychology professionals, mostly psychiatrists and psychology consultants, are bolstering the service. Over 50 percent of them treat patients at hospitals and clinics directly.
In the past week, most of the consultations online were related to the ongoing epidemic. "Some 60 to 70 percent of the people who availed of the services reported symptoms relating to tension and anxiety," said Tan Laixun, director of the neurology department of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Tan also said the surge in enquiries and consultations appears to suggest that many people affected directly or indirectly by the epidemic may be experiencing psychological problems.
Company data showed that by 12 pm on Feb 11, more than 50,000 visitors to the platform had completed self-assessment.
WeDoctor said its team of psychology professionals is continuously growing, so more online services will be launched soon. Next, it is planning to offer psychological support, including psychological knowledge related to the epidemic, as well as guidance on self-psychological adjustment.
Other online mental health platforms are also doing whatever they can during the crisis period.
On Feb 10, lifestyle app Little Red Book launched its 24/7 psychological support platform, offering free consultation to the public.
Shanghai-based Yidianling and several other online psychological assistive enterprises joined efforts with Meituan-Dianping, China's on-demand service platform covering food delivery to hotel ordering, to provide assistance to those in need. Currently, psychological consultation services related to the epidemic are free of cost.
According to Yidianling, after the launch of the services, demand for them surged, with the platform clocking hundreds of consultations every day.
Some people tend to panic at the onset of any suspicious symptoms. Others tend to feel depressed on negative news flow relating to the rising number of cases, the spread of the virus and fatalities. So, the platform has been trying its best to help such people ease anxiety and panic, and to stay healthy mentally.
Ni Rongbo, head of the Zhejiang Mental Health Promotion Association, noted that to win the battle against the novel coronavirus, people should win the battle mentally first.
"To this end, a psychological crisis intervention mechanism should be introduced, so should related effective plans. In addition to the public, government officials as well as medical staff at all levels need timely psychological counseling," Ni said.
"In the process of offering online psychological consultation, more and more people get to know our platform and are gaining trust in internet-based consultation for psychological problems, whereas in the past, many people didn't," said a consultant who sought anonymity.
"Building an online doctor-patient relationship based on trust is fundamental to the development of the whole online healthcare sector. This is one of the opportunities that the industry is embracing in the fight against the epidemic," said Chen Qiaoshan, a medical analyst at Beijing-based market consultancy Analysys.
A policewoman conducts online psychological counseling for local residents in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Feb 7. LIU XIN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE