TCS's Director Andrew Grimes was interviewed on the topics of the need for psychosocial support, on the subject of PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) mental health care and what we can expect to see over the coming years in Japan following the Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disasters on 11/3/2011. Some of his comments, shown below, were featured in The Magazine of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent in the article "Mending Minds", written by Tokyo based journalist Nick Jones, and that was published in the English and translated into the French and Spanish editions of the International Red Cross Magazine. The article focuses on the need for psychosocial and culturally sensitive mental health care for the as yet uncounted hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered and continue to be exposed to the stress and traumatic consequences that continue to impact their health, their lives, their communities and their livlihoods in the wake of the East Japan Great Earthquake, the ensuing Tsunami and the meltdowns and explosion of three of the Fukishima Dai Ichi nuclear power plants. Mr Jones well researched article was written after he travelled through the East Japan (Touhoku) Region disaster area to the town of Ishinomaki. In the article he places careful emphasise on the need for careful and culturally appropriate psychosocial support and mental heatlh care for the people and communities that were have been so wounded by the disasters: "Understanding the importance of psychological care following disasters, the JRCS also organized and dispatched teams of psychosocial professionals to help those traumatized survivors. The first workers arrived at the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital three days after the earthquake. By the middle of May, there were 289 psychosocial workers offering care and support in the main affected areas. (In total, around 8,000 Red Cross staff in Japan, including doctors and nurses, have received psychosocial training.) In late April, JRCS nurse Mayumi Oguri arrived at the evacuation centre where Asano is living with another 300 local residents. (There were 1,800 people living in the same space for the first three weeks after the disaster.) Oguri is head of a three-person psychosocial support team from Nagoya that relieved another group of psychosocial support workers. Sitting on the traditional Japanese straw tatami mat-lined floor of the school gymnasium, she says her team assesses the mental state of the people at the centre by walking around and talking, listening and offering opportunities for more private, emotional discussions. They also watch for tell-tale signs of post-traumatic stress such as insomnia, flashbacks, irritability and seclusion."
The need for Psychosocial Support and Mental Health Treatment.
The article also highlights the need to, as far as is practical, maintain and support the survivors "... Psychologist Nana Wiedemann, head of IFRC’s Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support in Copenhagen, Denmark, says that assigning roles to survivors adds a sense of meaning to their situation, as does introducing some familiar elements of everyday life. “It would be very important to establish some kind of routine,” she explains. “Of course, this is not a normal situation, but things like cooking food, playing with the children, taking care of the elderly and being a part of defining what the group needs and how these needs can be met are important.” People typically wake up at the centre at around 05:30 each morning. Some head to work through the debris-strewn streets, littered with upturned cars and boats, while others return to their homes to salvage possessions or begin repairs. The Japanese government aims to relocate all evacuees to temporary housing by the end of August. Tokyo-based clinical psychologist Andrew Grimes says this will be an important step towards improving mental health. “Those living in evacuation shelters have added stresses in that they lack privacy,” he says. “So it may be harder to grieve and share their feelings and comfort each other fully.” The JRCS says it will continue its psychosocial activities until the end of June before deciding if its teams still need to be deployed. Even after evacuees move into temporary housing, Oguri says it’s vital that they continue to be monitored and provided with follow-up health and mental care. Clinical psychologist Grimes agrees: “A rise in the number of people in the disaster zone suffering from depression and alcohol abuse may well be seen in time.” As for Asano, she doesn’t know yet if she’ll return to live in her home as she worries about the future threat of tsunami. For now, she remains focused on helping others at the centre slowly piece together their lives. “Maybe I work hard because I don’t want to remember that day or have nightmares,” she says, before rushing off to organize the evening’s entertainment. ”. Please click here read the full online article in English, "Mending Minds" written by Nick Jones for the the International Red Cross magazine.
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