Survey on impact of coronavirus on mental health

NHK -- Oct 12
Japan's health ministry is conducting an online survey to find out how the coronavirus is affecting mental health.

The World Health Organization says a sense of isolation and decreasing incomes are believed to be causing more people to become dependent on alcohol or suffer from insomnia.

Japan's health ministry began surveying more than 10,000 people last month out of concerns that stress from staying at home and fear of becoming infected may be having a serious impact on people's mental health.

Respondents are asked if they feel uneasy about work or their daily lives, and whether there have been any changes in their appetite, amount of sleep, and time spent playing computer games.

The ministry hopes to compile the findings by the end of the year to help local governments that are providing consultation services.

Officials aim to offer treatment or support before symptoms appear or soon afterwards.

A support facility called "SODA" was established in Tokyo's Adachi Ward last year with government support. Psychiatrists and psychiatric social workers provide free consultations to teenagers and young adults.

Psychiatrist Uchino Takashi says people have been under increasing stress since the beginning of this year due to the coronavirus. He says some people are feeling lonely or anxious as their living environment has changed and their connections with others have been forcefully broken off.