Finding inner peace on ocean wave

Updated: 2013-08-01 09:33

By Peng Yining (China Daily)

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Emotional support

Fang Jinxing, a 22-year-old sailor on a Chinese escort ship, underwent hernia surgery on the Peace Ark. In addition to the medical care he received during his 10-day stay, Fang was impressed by the psychological counseling services on offer, including consultations and psychotherapy courses.

Finding inner peace on ocean wave

Ma Haiying, a psychologist on the Peace Ark, during a session with sailor Fang Jinxing after he underwent hernia surgery. Peng Yining / China Daily

"The hernia had been bothering me for two months. Sometimes it hurt so much that I wasn't able to do my work. Other members of the crew and my supervisor helped me, but I was still very frustrated because I really wanted to do a good job," he said. "I tried hard to keep going, but in the end I was stuck in my cabin, doing nothing but lying on my bed. It was like a double attack; physical and mental."

It was the first time he had received treatment via hypnosis; after the first session he didn't want to open his eyes because, "The feeling was so comfortable and relaxing."

Finding inner peace on ocean wave

Nurses wash Fang's hair before giving him a haircut. Zhang Hao / for China Daily

The young sailor felt the time he'd spent aboard the Peace Ark had been highly beneficial. "I'm recovering well from the surgery and feeling much better," he said. "I think I'm ready to return to my ship."

Colonel Hoff, a general surgeon aboard the Van Speyk, an escort ship from the Netherlands, said that while his ship's complement doesn't include a psychologist, it does include a priest, who provides emotional support to both Christians and non-believers. However, members of the crew often visit psychotherapists when back on dry land and the navy has a well-developed support service, he said.

"The hardest part of any voyage has always been losing contact with family and friends, but now we are allowed to make phone calls and also have access to the Internet," said Onno Boshouwers, a staff officer on a Turkish escort ship. "Mental health is very important during a voyage, but most navies don't use onboard psychological specialists. However, we have some spiritual guides, people you can go and talk to. The Chinese navy is very professional and thoughtful to have a psychologist on board."

"We've taken good care of all of our sailors and officers in the gulf, and we sent specialists to those who were unable to come aboard for whatever reason," said Guan, Peace Ark's deputy commander.

"I believe the medical services provided by doctors and nurses from their homeland is a good mental comfort for the sailors, because it helps them realize that the people back at home care about them and are thinking of them. They've been working extremely hard on behalf of the country and the people, and they deserve our care and help," he said.

Ju Zhenhua contributed to this story.

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