A more depressed Japan needs mental health reform

9 years ago by in Travel

Japan experiencing an increased rate of mental health problems after the natural disasters which triggered a nuclear crisis this year, but the country could take advantage of the situation in order to reform the system and raise awareness on the problem.

The statement was made by Shekhar Saxena, a top official at the mental health department of the World Health Organisation, present at the World Health Summit in Berlin.

"Mental health treatment is needed for almost everyone who is affected by the disaster," he said. "Unfortunately, some neglect occurred."

The occurrence of depression doubled in Japan after the Fukushima accident, from one in ten people to one in five, Saxena said. More severe affections increased also. Psychosis, for example, increased from two to three percent of the population to three to four percent.

An efficient treatment of these problems comes easier from the local community than from medical institutions, but for this to happen attitudes and the system should change, the expert said.

Japanese tend to to bottle up their emotions about the tragedy they have been through and this makes them more difficult to treat. "It’s a real issue in Japan, and throughout Asia, especially among men … Maybe it’s the Samurai spirit. People don’t like to admit they are depressed," said a specialist from the Kyoto University School of Medicine and Public Health.