People walk along a shopping street in Tokyo on Monday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
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Japan to conduct 1st nationwide virus-linked mental health survey

39 Comments

Japan's health ministry will conduct its first nationwide survey possibly next month to look into how the new coronavirus pandemic has affected mental health, according to ministry and other sources.

The online survey covering 10,000 people is expected to show whether the government's requests to avoid unnecessary outings and voluntarily close businesses led to an increase in cases of depression and other forms of mental stress, the sources said.

The results of the survey are expected to be utilized by local mental health and welfare centers across the country in responding to future mental illness cases amid a sign of a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

The outbreak, which was first detected in China late last year before spreading worldwide, causes the respiratory illness COVID-19 and has had a lingering impact on the mental health of people around the world.

The United Nations said in May that 45 percent of the population surveyed in the United States felt distress, and it urged the international community to do much more to protect the most vulnerable during and after the pandemic.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to ask those polled to report their mental status and how they dealt with any stress in April and May, when the government declared a nationwide state of emergency, among other questions, according to the sources.

In the two months, mental health and welfare centers run by local governments saw a surge in mental health consultations related to the coronavirus, in particular among those in their 40s and 50s, according to the health ministry.

Some said they were unable to sleep well, felt they were going mad due to anxiety or were under stress as they refrained from going out.

A health ministry team tasked with tracking clusters, or groups of infections, has also received reports of attempted suicides.

Psychiatrist Yasuto Kunii, an associate professor at Tohoku University who was a member of the ministry team, pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic boosted the number of mental illness patients as it exacerbated the conditions of those with mental problems who until then had withstood them.

"There has probably been much damage among those who have not sought medical advice," Kunii said.

In June, the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology and four other academic communities described the pandemic as a "disaster" in their mental health guidelines and they asked for stronger support for those vulnerable to mental health problems including coronavirus patients, medical workers, the elderly and children.

Hirokazu Tachikawa, a University of Tsukuba professor versed in suicide prevention, hailed the government project, saying Japan has lagged behind other countries in conducting large-scale surveys in the field of psychiatry.

"I hope (the government) will devise questions so that specific countermeasures can be found, rather than merely showing in the survey the percentage of those who have mental problems," Tachikawa said.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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Are we jettisoning the taboo over mental health? Excellent!

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I’ve always felt people have needed to empower themselves throughout this drama. If anyone had just followed government orders the last few months, without questioning or acting on their own common sense and desires at times too, they’d be bonkers!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A bit late to the table. Someone in US already did this in early May i.e. 2.5 months ago.:(https://theconversation.com/new-study-shows-staggering-effect-of-coronavirus-pandemic-on-americas-mental-health-137944).

But, nonetheless, good to see mental health being studied/discussed in Japan. Long overdue and much needed!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Though this ordeal, I feel lucky to have had my wife and kids to keep me mentally sane. I can't imagine not being able be around another human. Even myself, I miss hanging out with friends and going to networking events like I did before all this. Getting out on my bicycle has helped greatly as well.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

So now people in Japan get depressed if they don:t work 60 hours a week?

Nope, that:s not the reason. I bet they wouldn't mind if they received their full salaries.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Are we jettisoning the taboo over mental health? Excellent!

i hope so!

i feel for those who are having trouble.

I am lucky not to have any mental health problems, but I have experienced depression for about 3 years entirely caused by medication. It’s NOT a pretty world when your mind is out of your control. I really wish people could understand, but the stigma will NEVER go away because everyone cannot have the experience.

Dark times.

As a side note, can you believe I came off the meds after just 3 or 4 months?! The effects linger! Analyse google before you take anything!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Government and Bueuracrats need a serious mental Heath check too their behaviour has been bizarre to say the least. But it's about time mental health is an open discussion hopefully with results that benefit the whole of society.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

A bit late to the table. Someone in US already did this in early May i.e. 2.5 months ago.:

Why? Not a bit late, this is not the US and in my opinion, if Japan used the same guidelines to determine a mental illness here, as they do in the states, over 50% of the population here, (rough estimate on my part) and over 99% of the politicians and bureaucrats would be "mentally ill"

I get tired of all the times people "compare" Japan with the US, or ____ (insert country name) vs US.

The US, is hardly the "gold" standard for the world to be compared to, and especially now, with the covid virus, the US is literally at the top of the garbage heap in how it is being handled there!

8 ( +12 / -4 )

This is amazing news. Such a great story. Amazing writing. I love this story. "Japan to conduct 1st nationwide virus-linked mental health survey." I wonder how they will do this?!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

A well regulated populace, being necessary to the security of the State, the right of the people to Prozac, shall not be infringed

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A survey is a good start, but then what? JSDF, police, and fire fighters who searched for weeks on end after 3/11 found dismembered bodies, corpses half eaten by fish day after day after day and yet did not receive the proper treatment for PTS (I don't use the word disorder by choice). The government has to start funding mental health programs not only for "Corona Stress" but take a look at its woefully inadequate mental health system.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Yabaru

I wasn’t comparing the (insert country name here) to Japan. I was merely stating, and sharing, that a very informative study had already been conducted elsewhere long before now on the detriment to mental health caused by Covid to date.

6 months in with seemingly rising crime based on this media outlets reporting and inevitable elevated stress levels in japan doing a study so late in the day is overdue imo.

There was no mention of ‘using the same guidelines’ in my comment so again I’m unsure why you mention that.

I don’t hold the US to be the gold standard in much either so again I’m not sure why you jumped to the conclusion I do.

Though I agree with you it’s been completely mishandled there.

Have a great day!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

were under stress as they refrained from going out.

I completely agree with that.

Every weekend I went to my 2 favorite Izakayas to meet my friends there, talk to the owners, the staff, meet new people...but now because of the Corona situation it is completely different.

Currently I use their Take Out Service to support them, but I think in the near future I will return personally.

I am getting crazy without having these folks around me and drink good Sake, eat good food and share the latest stories with each other.

The outbreak, which was first detected in China

This is what makes me angry the most:

All this mess in the world is because of China, and they still continue bullying the world and keep their filthy markets running.

(Anyway I think the virus is engineered by China in their Laboratory)

Ordinary hard working people all over the world are under mental stress and have a lot of serious problems now, because of China!

I am not surprised that the people around the world are getting angry with the Chinese.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

The outbreak, which was first detected in China...

Yeah,yeah,blah,blah.We know.And spilt milk.*
5 ( +10 / -5 )

The stigma surrounding mental health needs to be removed

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Sid the paltry 100000 yen prevent starvation but little else?

Give the people more money back!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Michael Machida Today  08:01 am JST

I wonder how they will do this?!

By fax.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Conducting the surveys wii be worth it to see how Japanese people affect mental health.

I wish the government utilise the result for next step as early as possible. Want clear.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

By fax.

Probably not, too many people dont have them, so it will either be by snail-mail or some city office hacks, walking around the neighborhood asking...."Do you have stress because of COVID?"

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It is not the virus itself, but a series of some irrelevant, off the mark responses which have given the public frustration and psychological pains (I never deny all; some measures have been worth taking and proving effective).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is more data to feed into the question of whether or not the lockdown was worth the price. Some lives were saved, no question, but at what cost? These is some hard and brutal calculus that needs to be done. People need to get past the idea that "safety" is the most important thing in the world. Rather, the risk-reward equation is the one that we need to think about.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I am not surprised that the people around the world are getting angry with the Chinese

Put the word ‘government’ at the end of that sentence, sport.

Many people around the world are angry with the CCP and the failures of their own governments.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Jimizo

I am talking about the Chinese people. Nit about the CCP.

Most people in the world don't know the meaning of CCP or what that is.

For most of the people, the chinese person is responsible for that. (Mainly because of their eating habit)

All over the world you can see discrimination against the chinese people now because of the Virus, right?

And that is the fault of the CCP.

The CCP is responsible that the chinese people are now getting treated different than before

That is a very very sad situation!

But unfortunately that is happening now all over the world.

I really hope and wish that this situation will change again after the Corona Virus is gone.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Let me explain you what I mean by an example:

In the street with my 2 famous Izakaya, I usually went, is another Izakaya, run by a Chinese Girl.

She is such a wonderful and nice person.

But her Izakaya is completely empty. All other Izakaya around are busy, but hers not.

Why? Because she is a Chinese and people are “scared” to get the Virus.

She came to Japan already many many years ago and has not yet been in China for more than 2 years. But the people don’t care. She is a Chinese and that scares the people because of the virus.

And you can see many many situations like that all around the world now.

And responsible for these situations is the CCP!

And that is what I mean by saying: I am not surprise that the people around the world are getting angry with the Chinese.

Because of all the very very bad things the CCP is doing, the people around the world are getting angry with the Chinese people, because people are making no difference between a chinese citizen or the CCP.

Because they don't understand what is the CCP.

And that is a very very sad situation!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Back on topic please.

@Monty

I hope you go in to the Chinese girl’s izakaya. Lots of ganbares and fight! To cheer her up.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think people are being stressed by the constant media bombardment about the virus. Every day, death numbers, meaningless statistics, grim faced reporters predicting doomsday scenarios... no wonder depression and despair are growing.

The reality isn't quite the same, especially here in Japan. The country is remarkably virus free given the population and location. A touch over 1000 deaths in four months is remarkable. One would think there would be victims all around the place if you believed what you see on TV.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As an ongoing pandemic (that is now mutating and having a second wave), just doing one small selective study is of no use. A large study is needed and it needs to be followed up every six months and data analyzed and compared.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

End of the article: ""I hope (the government) will devise questions so that specific countermeasures can be found, rather than merely showing in the survey the percentage of those who have mental problems," Tachikawa said."

Master class in throwing shade. I hope so, too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The results of the survey are expected to be utilized by local mental health and welfare centers across the country in responding to future mental illness cases amid a sign of a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Good intentions but considering that the area of mental health in Japan is way behind the west, what will local mental health and welfare centres do with the data? We've seen how welfare centres deal with child abuse situations where they essentially failed the children resulting in their death. Anyone with a BA in Psychology in Japan can open a counseling office in Japan. No MA needed, no licensing needed, no supervision needed. On the other side, you have psychiatrists whose sole function is to prescribe medication and could care less about treating core issues. The Japanese govt does not regulate mental health industry or 'professionals'. Without addressing these issues first, this is waste of money and energy. Nothing will come out of it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@goodlucktoyou

Absolutely no problem.

Everything ok!

And I 100% agree with you, that this is a discussion board and people share different perspectives and opinions.

If everyone would have the same opinion, it would be boring right?

So everything is alright, no problem at all.

Cheers Mate!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hi all,

my first post on here.

i live in the uk and my fiancée in Okayama.

we were due to marry in April, but obviously the virus put paid to that.

we rearranged for Halloween, but the closer it gets the less confident I feel about japan opening its borders in time.

my stress and anxiety are through the roof , I feel physically ill.

i noticed as from yesterday the Netherlands made travel restrictions exempt for couples in a relationship.

why can’t japan and other countries follow suit , love isn’t tourism, it is somebody’s life.

thank you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alan

Your Japanese fiancée is able to travel to the UK and return but you can't until the travel restrictions are lifted. You could have a legal wedding in the UK and once the restrictions are lifted another in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hi Zichi

Thank you for your reply and suggestion.

At the moment Japanese citizens are unable to travel anywhere world wide.

At the moment only discussions about business people visiting Vietnam etc exist.

If she could fly to the UK I'm sure her case would be packed and waiting.

It took so long to plan our original wedding

I had to visit the British Embassy in Japan and prepare many legal documents in the UK

I hope the Japanese government are lenient on the original dates to which these were signed , due to current extreme circumstances.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only able to bubble along

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How many points on the CN scale of citizens

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Alan

Hi Zichi

Thank you for your reply and suggestion.

At the moment Japanese citizens are unable to travel anywhere world wide.

The government can not prevent nationals leaving or returning which would go against the constitution. I believe the UK has lifted restrictions for Japanese. Also the EU have lifted restrictions. Japan has not lifted restrictions for foreigners.

Are you getting married in the UK or Japan?

But I'm not an expert on any of this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The outbreak, which was first detected in China

This is what makes me angry the most:

*All this mess in the world is because of China**, and they still continue bullying the world and keep their filthy markets running.*

(Anyway I think the virus is engineered by China in their Laboratory)

*Ordinary hard working people all over the world are under mental stress and have a lot of serious problems now, because of China!*

I am not surprised that the people around the world are getting angry with the Chinese.

Viruses like this can develop anywhere, and they do. As rotten as the CCP is, they are fighting this too. No one is to blame. And as for the 'filthy markets' jive the propaganda US TV news shows the same crap, but do you think those popular food trucks are clean and sanity themselves? Think again. People running them take the money, cook up the grub and give it to you with unsanitized hands.

And TreasonTrump thinks he's being cute by calling it the 'Kung Flu' but that just shows how immature, racist and uncouth he really is. All this China-bashing is stupid and doesn't help any matters at all.

Quit picking on ethnic Chinese people. They (and the stinking CCP) didn't want this any more than the rest of us.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm doing my own survey here about virus linked mental health. :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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