MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN DISASTER
1. Top of page
2. DAMAGE TO THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
3. JSPN ACTIVITY IN MENTAL HEALTH CARE
4. MENTAL HEALTH CARE IN DISASTER
Recent disasters due to earthquakes include the Haiti earthquake (12 January 2010, M7.0) in which more than 222 570 were killed and 300 000 injured. The Eastern Sichuan earthquake (12 May 2008, M7.9) was another disaster in China with 69 195 killed and 374 177 injured. At least 15 million people were evacuated from their homes and more than 5 million were left homeless. Reports of the Haiti2–4 and Sichuan earthquakes5–8 from mental health view points are all instructive in figuring out the tactics for the East Japan Great Earthquake.
Earthquakes are relatively frequent in Japan and some of them have been serious enough to cause damage to human life for several months. The most recent disaster caused by earthquake is the Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake (16 January 1995, M6.9), which caused 5502 deaths, with 36 896 injured. About 310 000 people were evacuated to temporary shelters. Over 200 000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Numerous fires, gas and water main breaks and power outages caused severe damage to lifelines of city life. Owing to the long-lasting effects to the mental health of the victims, may reports by mental health professionals have been published.9–18 The JSPN organized a special symposium on mental health of Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake on May 17, 1995, 4 months after the disaster.9
Other earthquake disasters in the central part of Japan, the Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake (23 October 2004, M6.8),19–21 the Noto Peninsula Earthquake,22 and the Hokkaido Earthquake23 were studied and reported on their effects to mental health for many years. Other disasters caused by floods,24 massive traffic accidents,25,26 and the Ehimemaru accident, in which a Japanese high school training ship was hit and sunk by a collision with a US Navy submarine,27 were also studied and analyzed from psychiatric view points.
All reports pointed out the common findings that weaker people, like the elderly, children, and the mentally handicapped, tend to become the first victims of the disaster. Under the critical situations, mentally handicapped people have less chance of being helped, and sometimes they are the first to be neglected under circumstances. The East Japan Great Earthquake might be no exception.
Mental health care and East Japan Great Earthquake - Takeda - 2011 - Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences - Wiley Online Library