In a year that none of us could have ever anticipated, TELL has been truly astounded by the way our community has stepped up in support of TELL, mental health, our programs, resources, and services. We are continually working on expanding these to meet the mental health needs of our growing community across Japan, and to prevent sexual violence against girls in Japan. We are thrilled to report that this project has now been funded!
Like many nonprofit organizations, we changed our in-person events to individual and virtual. We were absolutely floored by the positive response we received for our Step Up for Mental Health Challenge and our 24th Annual (Online) Auction. Our gratitude is immense.
As we head towards the end of the year, the holidays, especially ones that are perhaps not going to play out as planned, will be hard for many. The last few months have already seen an increase in the suicide rates across many age groups and sectors in Japan, particularly impacting females. While we all feel the optimism that the coming year brings, it is our mission to be there, NOW, for every individual who needs someone to listen, someone to care. We ask for your continued support as we work to bring the Lifeline and Chat to young people and girls, who need it now more than ever. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the mission and vision of TELL, and for being a part of making this project a success.
Back to school has happened in Japan, while people continue to work from home and take daily measures to protect ourselves from COVID-19. This year, people’s physical and mental health has been impacted all over the world more than ever due to the many stressors and challenges that seem to have become the new “normal” overnight. In Japan the stigma surrounding mental health is greater than most countries leading to so many people struggling to manage on their own in shame and silence. The WHO is calling on people all over the world to take action this year, starting this month, and make mental health a priority.
We have worked hard and expanded our team to meet the increasing needs for support and resources nationally. This Fall there were over 60 applicants for our Lifeline Volunteer training program, and 40 applicants were accepted. The first day of training, done for the first time 100% virtually via Zoom, was a great success and we look forward to a new group of volunteers joining the Line after training is completed. We are extremely excited to share that with so much interest in the Lifeline Volunteer training program, TELL has brought on another team member to assist the longtime trainer.
While we would normally be climbing Tokyo Tower this month for World Suicide Prevention Day, to maintain the safety of our community, we are holding the “Step Up for Mental Health Challenge”, a Japan-wide event challenging teams and individuals to walk 20,169 steps in honor of the 20,169 lives lost to suicide last year in Japan. The event has gotten off to a great start and we are so grateful to all of our supporters who are stepping up for mental health and suicide prevention.
We continue to receive donations toward “Girls Matter: Stop Sexual Violence in Japan” and appreciate the recognition by our community here in Japan and in around the world of how important it is to stop the violence, especially at a time when additional stressors are causing young people to be affected in unexpected and challenging ways. Let’s keep up the support for those among us who are very much in need of it.
Your donations make a real difference in the lives of girls in Japan, and that is how, together, we can bring about significant change and build a healthy and vibrant community. Won’t you be a part of the fight to end the violence?
Summer is right around the corner, and for Japan, today marked what would have been the official lifting of the “State of Emergency,” had it not been lifted earlier than expected, last week. COVID-19 has thrown Japan and the world into uncertain and challenging situations, from kids and parents no longer being at school and in their workplaces, public gatherings and playgrounds being prohibited, and the new norm of mask-wearing and social-distancing that came swiftly. Through these changes, it has been our top priority to provide the support and resources for our community across Japan, through the Lifeline, virtual workshops, and continuing to train the volunteers who have been doing a commendable job in maintaining their shifts on the Line and the Chat service.
So many have been impacted in a multitude of ways and yet, through it, our community recognizes how necessary the services we provide are, and we have continued to receive donations toward “Girls Matter: Stop Sexual Violence in Japan.” Your support is so critical, and so appreciated - thank you!
Our Spring 2020 support training had 29 volunteers who were accepted into the program, and we are proud to report that 25 are expected to successfully complete it. The TELL training coordinator has been working diligently to provide all of the training online, to comply with recommendations on social distancing during this time. In a time when the international community is seeing people leave Japan to return to their home countries, we greatly appreciate all of the individuals who are committed to being the voice on the Line and the text response on the Chat in a time when the world is experiencing increased rates of anxiety and depression.
With such extreme circumstances, the team at TELL believes it is more important than ever to help protect girls from sexual violence, whether that is occuring right now because of the need to “stay-at-home,” or a safe environment, like school, is no longer available, or a variety of other unforeseen scenarios.
Your donations make a real difference in the lives of girls in Japan, and that is how, together, we can build a healthy and vibrant community. Won’t you be a part of the fight to end the violence?
It was a very busy Fall for TELL and we are eager to update you on all that we have been doing here in the community. Our expanding team has been reaching more people than ever by providing workshops, face-to-face counselling and by continuing to have our crucial crisis support Lifeline and chat service.
As part of World Mental Health Day, TELL & together with Juri Watanabe (Miss Kyoto in this year's Miss World Japan competition), asked for people to be part of our #GiveHeartsforLife campaign. This campaign encouraged people around the country to write words of support and encouragement to those struggling with mental health issues using the hashtag#GiveHeartsforLife and to share these messages with TELL’s social media platforms (@telljapan) throughout the month of September & October.
TELL also celebrated Stress down week with workshops, yoga, and mindfulness activities, and in October around 200 people proudly walked with TELL in the Osaka Pride march, around 60 people marched with TELL and Stonewall in Kyushu. In November TELL made noise about domestic violence and child abuse survivors, men’s mental health and the importance of volunteers.
Our Fall 2019 support training had over 50 applications and 40 volunteers were accepted into the program. At the start of December 31 volunteers had graduated from the online portion of the training and are working through their protocols before taking shifts on our line. We hope in February/March to have around 120 - 130 volunteer support workers and to extend our chat service hours.
In December, TELL applauded Shiori Ito for helping to bring the #metoo movement to Japan. While her victory in the civil case against Noriyuki Yamaguchi is a major step in the right direction, we recognize that there is so much more work to be done in order to change the mindset around sexual violence toward women and girls.
One of the buzzwords of the year, #kutoo, resulted from the courage of Yumi Ishikawa to take a stand against the workplace norm here in Japan, when she questioned why women must wear heels. This is causing much of the accepted gender roles here to be looked at in a more critical way, and acknowledging that for women to have a place of equality in the workplace, they must not be forced to dress a certain way.
In 2019, Japan fell 11 places to 121st in global gender equality ranking, marking the lowest it has ever been and far below any of the other 7 major world economies. So while we continue to see positive news and individuals taking on the fight for women, we know it is not nearly enough.
At TELL, we believe that there is a more pressing need than ever before to provide an outlet and support for all of the brave individuals and groups fighting to stop sexual violence toward women in Japan, and to bring women to a place of equality in society. We hope you will consider supporting our project and work in Japan.
Your donations matter and can make a real difference in the lives of women who have been the victims of sexual assault. Will you help us?
It is nearly the end of the year and over the past few months TELL has been busy making noise about suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, disaster preparation, cultural adjustment & supports for young people with special needs.
In September we made a lot of noise about mental health issues and in particular suicide. Our Tokyo Tower climb sold out again, and despite an impending typhoon, 500 people took on the challenge to climb the 600 steps and make a noise about suicide prevention issues in Japan. We also held suicide prevention walks in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, Kyoto, and Sendai, in which volunteers handed out cards in English & Japanese highlighting the warning signs & how to support someone who might be struggling.
As part of World Mental Health Day, TELL, together with Juri Watanabe, (Miss Kyoto in this year's Miss World Japan competition), asked for people to be part of our #GiveHeartsforLife campaign. This campaign encouraged people around the country to write words of support and encouragement to those struggling with mental health issues using the hashtag#GiveHeartsforLife and to share these messages with TELL’s social media platforms (@telljapan) throughout the month of September & October.
TELL also celebrated Stress Down week with workshops, yoga, and mindfulness activities, and in October around 200 people proudly walked with TELL in the Osaka Pride march. Over the last few months of the year, TELL will be making a noise about domestic violence, child abuse, suicide survivors, men’s mental health and the importance of volunteers.
Finally, we would like to give you an update on the situation surrounding sexual abuse in Japan. Earlier this year hundreds of sexual abuse survivors marched in nine cities around Japan to protest a series of acquittals for several alleged rapists. The women are demanding changes by the government to better reform the current anti-rape laws. While important reforms were made in 2017, the law still currently requires prosecutors to prove that violence or intimidation was involved or that the survivor was "incapable of resistance." to prove rape. This means as far as the Japanese legal system is concerned, in a case of sexual assault, incest or rape, “no” only means “no” if the survivor backs it up with violence and loud resistance, something many survivors particularly young survivors are not able to do.
As we work towards our funding goal, TELL will continue to fight for a culture of respect and equality for all in Japan. Thank you, for your support of TELL and our work in Japan. We hope you feel proud of your contributions and the difference you are helping to make in Japan.
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