Mental care and Reconstruction of Devastated Areas
More than two years have passed since the Great East Japan earthquake. In devastated areas such as Miyagi and Iwate prefecture, tangible movements towards reconstruction such as debris removal, restoration of public infrastructure, construction of disaster public housing is underway. On the other hand, the psychological stress of disaster victims who have lost their loved ones or have faced significant changes in living conditions is immeasurable, and the need for psychological care is increasing in number.
In particular, there have been recent cases where people cannot adapt to the new community after moving from temporary housing, and thus, becoming more reclusive from society.
In the case of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995, the number of victims who needed psychological care is said to have increased three years from the disaster, after physical safety and ordinary life stabilized among the disaster victims. In the disaster-struck Tohoku region, where similar circumstances are occurring, we came across people who support the lives of the disaster victims. These “mental experts=clinical psychologists” have been helping people solve their psychological needs according to their characteristics and situations.
As of April 2013, the number of clinical psychologists certified by the Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists was 26,329. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the ratio of clinical psychologists is one per approximately 7,000 people in Miyagi prefecture and 9,000 in Iwate prefecture, while the ratio in Tokyo is one per approximately 3,000, showing how the number of clinical psychologists in the disaster-struck Tohoku region is far below the national average. In particular, 70% of the clinical psychologists in the entire Iwate prefecture are concentrated in and around Morioka city. Especially for the coastal disaster areas where there were shortages of physicians and hospitals even before the earthquake, there is a greater need for psychological care, and the importance of clinical psychologists in the area is way above other prefectures.
This month, we will introduce the activities of Iwate Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists, one of the efforts of NPO Partner Projects which supports NPOs established in devastated areas to respond to their needs. The Iwate Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists carried out their activities in the coastal disaster areas soon after the earthquake, as “specialists” offering various mental cares in cooperation with Iwate prefecture, municipal administrations and private organizations.
If you need further information, please find our homepage.(www.civic-force.org/english)Attachments: