The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine
Online ISSN : 1349-3329
Print ISSN : 0040-8727
Commentary
Mental Health Crisis in Northeast Fukushima after the 2011 Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster
Hisanori FukunagaHiromi Kumakawa
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Volume 237 (2015) Issue 1 Pages 41-43

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Abstract

The great earthquake of 11 March 2011 and resulting tsunami caused serious damage to various areas of the Pacific coast in northeast Fukushima, and all the residents faced fears of meltdown of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. One of the most seriously affected areas was the district of Soso, located in the northeast part of Fukushima prefecture, with 12 municipalities (Soma City, Minamisoma City, Shinchi Town, Namie Town, Futaba Town, Ōkuma Town, Tomioka Town, Naraha Town, Hirono Town, Iitate Village, Katsurao Village and Kawauchi Village). The district of Soso is home to approximately 200,000 residents, many of whom were seriously affected by the threefold disaster. During the subsequent four years, the population of Soso decreased by nearly 10%. In March 2011 before the disaster, five hospitals and two clinics for psychiatric patients, along with 712 inpatients, were operating in the district of Soso. However, as of March 2015, there were only one hospital and three clinics, along with approximately 50 inpatients, although a new mental health clinic in Soma City was opened in 2012 for supporting victims suffering from the disaster. We hereby suggest that the patients and residents of northeast Fukushima may be undergoing mental health crisis. In fact, disaster-related psychological stress could have induced several physical and mental disorders. The mid- and long-term supports are urgently needed not only for psychiatric patients but also for all residents in the district of Soso.

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