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State of Mental Health

  The Tohoku region has a total population of around 9.63 million and over 400,000 people were displaced following the Great Tsunami and Earthquake.   Currently, it is reported that over 340,000 people are still living in katsejuku, or temporary housing, and it is expected that this situation will continue for the next two to three years.  Many of these people are elderly and have lost their families, their work, their property and entire community resulting in an increased risk in physical ailments, such as heart disease, and behavioral changes, including sleep deprivation and poor dieting due to hypertension and post-traumatic stress disorder.


In addition to repairing the extraordinary infrastructural damage in Tohoku, the more immediate needs are in mental health care and healing the stress caused by these losses.   The uncertainty surrounding the unseen toxicants caused by the nuclear fallout at Fukushima Daiichi are another source of the tremendous stress felt by the people of Tohoku.  Experts say that if these needs are not addressed in the immediate future there could be long-term psychological damage that could affect both adults and children making the recovery process even longer.  

Traditionally Japanese culture is resistant to mental health care and it is seen as a sign of weakness, so it will be necessary for hospitals or other organizations caring for the emotionally distressed to find ways to reach out to those in need of help.  It is vital for people who come under extraordinary stress to express their emotions and sharing feelings in order to prevent people from advancing into more server stages of mental illness requiring additional mental care.

In order to provide this kind of mental health care and prevent further risk it will be necessary for Japanese organizations to form partnerships with international organizations that can provide additional expertise and funding not available in Japan today.   We are already seeing examples of this with groups such as Project HOPE who have sent teams of medical volunteers to provide health care and are currently implementing a hospital reconstruction project in Yamada-machi, Iwate.

In order for these international organizations and individuals to continue to help Japan it is necessary to provide them with information about what is going on with the state of mental health in Japan and, therefore, Rebuilding Tohoku has created this category to provide such information.  


Recent Articles
Saturday, May 12, 2012
12:16  -   Japan: MSF Supports Construction and Rehabilitation of Temporary Clinics
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