Mental Health Matters

Source: ACCJ Journal

Most of us have lived through a disaster or crisis, so have some understanding of how to cope and stay resilient. But no one is immune to the effects of stress and pressure, and the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis like few in our lifetimes.

The disruption and devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, lingers in the minds of the country. But those terrible events and their impact were limited compared with the effects of Covid-19. What is happening now is causing mental health challenges on an enormous scale.

Japan’s suicide hotlines are reporting a surge in calls from people concerned about health and financial matters. According to Kyodo News on May 13, the Federation of Inochi no Denwa, comprised of some 50 suicide prevention organizations em­ploying some 6,000 counselors across Japan, said the number of incoming calls its members have received has soared since the government declared a state of emergency in April. Saitama Inochi no Denwa says 70–80 percent of the 70 or so calls it receives each day have been related to Covid-19.

For non-Japanese residents, such hotlines may be less acces­sible due to language barriers. Fortunately, the international community in Japan is supported by many experts who pro­vide counseling in English and other languages. Thanks to them, expats have a place to turn when they need help. The ACCJ Journal spoke with some to learn what they are hearing from those affected by the crisis and for tips on how to cope.

Vickie Skorji, Lifeline director at TELL, explained that we have all been experiencing what is known as traumatic stress response, something that happens to everyone during a disaster. “As we adjust to all the changes and uncertainty that Covid-19 is placing on our lives, our stress response is in …continue reading