Southwest China has a shortage of psychologists to treat traumatised earthquake survivors, some of whom are even contemplating suicide, the chief of a major hospital said Sunday.
Shi Yingkang, 57, said that his Huaxi Hospital, the biggest in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu, has 70 psychologists -- enough to treat his patients.
But other hospitals have far fewer mental health specialists and Shi estimated the city alone needs 200, whom he hoped can be dispatched from other parts of China.
"We don't have enough psychologists," Shi told AFP outside the hospital emergency department which he said is handling more and more patients brought in from the hard-hit countryside.
Shi said one-third of the psychologists from his hospital have been sent to the badly-damaged areas outside Chengdu.
"Some patients have mental problems now," he said. "Some victims want to commit suicide because their family members were lost."
The government has estimated more than 50,000 people in total died from last Monday's 7.9-magnitude earthquake, China's worst natural disaster in a generation.
The government on Sunday put the number of injured at 220,109. Nearly five million people have been left homeless.