Perspectives: Mental Health

Kayoko Hayashi is native of Nagoya, Japan which is situated about two hundred miles southeast of Tokyo. She is also a psychology intern at the Counseling Center under the direction of Richard Shadick, PhD. She lends her own perspective to the disaster in Japan.

How are the people of Japan coping with yet another nuclear disaster?

The sense that I get from Japanese media is that people in Japan are currently “faced with” the nuclear crisis while not knowing how to “cope with” it and not knowing how things will unfold. The majority of my friends and family who live in Tokyo, seem to be calm about it. One of my friend’s family [members] said, “We have family, house, and job here. When things happen, things happen. We will deal with it then, and we will do our best to prepare for the crisis, yet also to avoid the crisis.” Besides people who have been evacuated from their hometown, I am getting the sense from people I know in Japan that a lot of people are staying where they are and trying to continue their life because they have work and everything else there. The tone of Japanese media and government appears to be more reluctant to address the severity of crisis, so their communication might have impacted the people’s response to the nuclear accident. Japanese society [has] never experienced such a big nuclear accident, so [the] government, experts, and lay-people are continuously trying to assess the severity of situation and to learn how they should all deal with this crisis regarding people’s physical safety and its economical impact.

What are some of the short- and long-term mental health implications?

The Japanese newspapers that I have access to via the Internet do not really talk about mental health issues. The government and media appear to focus more on economical, infrastructural, and medical issues in response to this series of crisis in Japan. However, a lot of people must have experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and many other symptoms in reaction to this disaster that is beyond our imagination.

How will this impact what you teach Pace students in the future?

The concept that we can never take our safety for granted. Anything in our lives can be shaken up in any moment.

What do you think is the greatest impact on the United States and the world?

I think that one of the great impacts of this incident in Japan on the U.S. and the world has been the safety issue. As we saw through media, all the buildings, cars, and ships were crushed by earthquakes and washed away by tsunami. After the nuclear plant explosion, the situation worsened, and some regions had to ban the consumption of local water and agricultural products due to the high load of radiation. This series of incidents teach us how safety can be taken away in one second. Things like water, air, milk, agricultural products, electricity, and other things that we take it for granted everyday are not there anymore. Scary facts about the nuclear plant

What methods of support, aside from financial, can we lend to Japan?

Helping spirits for those affected by the crisis in Japan—many celebrities and professionals are gathering to fundraise or to collect useful information about dealing with crisis. This spirit will be heard and appreciated in Japan. Sharing experiences, tips, and findings from how crisis has been dealt with in the United States (for example, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the fire in San Francisco) in different areas, including mental health, politics, economy, infrastructure, agriculture, will also be helpful.

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