2018 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 50-58
There are substantial differences between natural and nuclear disasters in terms of the psychosocial impact associated with many factors such as human and material losses, psychological acceptance, community cohesiveness, stigmas, and media influence. Although the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Fukushima, Japan, was a major disaster, the impact of the subsequent nuclear accident seemed to be even more devastating on residents’ mental health. These effects included not only posttraumatic responses but also chronic psychiatric symptoms such as depression and alcohol abuse, which can also contribute to self-destructive behavior such as suicide. In addition to these psychiatric problems, Fukushima residents had to endure public and self-stigma towards the radiation effects. In particular, negative risk perceptions about the genetic effects of radiation were associated with depressive symptoms among the evacuees. Significant exhaustion and various types of depressive symptoms have been reported among relief workers in Fukushima, who require more intensive care and treatment. To maintain and develop the current care network in Fukushima successfully, cooperation between different resources involving outside experts is key.