. Earth Science News .

Use Japan nuke disaster to reform mental health system: WHO
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Oct 24, 2011

Japan should use a higher rate of mental health problems after the Fukushima nuclear accident to update outdated attitudes to depression in the country, a top health official said Monday.

Speaking at the World Health Summit in Berlin, Shekhar Saxena, from the mental health division of the World Health Organisation, said the mental aspects of disasters tended to be ignored in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

"Mental health treatment is needed for almost everyone who is affected by the disaster," Saxena told a packed audience at the summit. "Unfortunately, some neglect occurred."

Officials have previously warned of an increase in depression cases in a country where this illness still carries a stigma largely overcome in the West.

It is only recently that urban areas of Japan have begun to tackle the taboo surrounding depression, a condition euphemistically known as "heart 'flu" in the country.

After a disaster such as the Fukushima accident, the prevalence of severe mental disorders, such as psychosis, increase from two to three percent of the population to three to four percent, said Saxena.

More mild mental disorders like depression increase from one in ten people to one in five, he added.

Treating such disorders is best done within the community rather than in medical institutions, he said, arguing for an overhaul of attitudes and the system in Japan.

"In Japan, mental health care is largely undertaken by specialised institutions whereas it is more effective if it is undertaken at a community level," he said.

"We recommend for Japan to utilise the opportunity presented by the disaster to actually change the system to make it more community-oriented."

Shunichi Fukuhara, from the Kyoto University School of Medicine and Public Health, told AFP that Japanese people were tending to bottle up their feelings about the tragedy, making treating them harder.

"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."

Another expert, Shunichi Yamashita, from Fukushima medical university, said the tragic war-time history of the Japanese had sparked greater anxiety than might have been the case elsewhere in the world.

"People in Japan are very much aware of the risks from radiation from the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so they worry more," said Yamashita.

Yamashita, who moved from Nagasaki to Fukushima to assist in the response to the accident, said Japan needed an "unprecedented effort" to monitor the health impact of the disaster.

He is currently working on a survey of two million people.

"There are uncertainties about the risks of chronic low-dose radiation exposures for human health but there is no alternative than to take the responsibility of monitoring the health condition of people around Fukushima."

The March 11 earthquake triggered a tsunami that tore into Japan's northeast coast, leaving 20,000 people dead or missing and sparking meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It was the world's worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl meltdown and prompted a raft of health fears, both physical and mental.

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Rice regrets shoe shopping amid Katrina disaster: book
Washington (AFP) Oct 23, 2011
Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice regrets having gone shoe-shopping and out for a night at the theater while Hurricane Katrina ravaged the US Gulf coast, she wrote in excerpts of her memoir released Sunday. In "No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington," which arrives in bookstores next week, Rice, the top US diplomat during president George W. Bush's second term, writes ... read more

Rice regrets shoe shopping amid Katrina disaster: book

Radiation hotspot near Tokyo linked to Fukushima: officials

Use Japan nuke disaster to reform mental health system: WHO

Wall collapses at Pompei after flash storms

Microring device could aid in future optical technologies

Netflix loses 810,000 US subscribers

Study: No negative impact from e-readers

Greenpeace criticises Japan radiation screening

Brazil pulls out of OAS meet over Amazon dam dispute

From red planet to deep blue sea: Astronomer Squyres becomes NASA aquanaut

Explanation for Glowing Seas Suggested

Deep-reef coral hates the light, prefers the shade

China's glaciers in meltdown mode: study

Glaciers in China shrinking with warming

Polar bear habitats expected to shrink dramatically:

CryoSat rocking and rolling

Putting light-harvesters on the spot

Study Reveals Diversity of Life in Soils

Mongol herder killed in China land dispute: rights group

New bacteria toxins against resistant insect pests

Fiery volcano offers geologic glimpse into land that time forgot

Desperate hunt for survivors after Turkey quake carnage

Bangkok set for unstoppable floodwaters

Desperate hunt for survivors after Turkey quake carnage

France denies Somali bombardment, admits helping Kenya

Sudden drop in Somali arrivals in Kenya: UNHCR

Kenya, Uganda snared in Battle for Africa

Kenyan forces advance on strategic Somali rebel bases

Culture in humans and apes has the same evolutionary roots

Tracing the first North American hunters

Crowded Earth: how many is too many

'Generation Squeezed': today's family staggering under the pressure


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement