Mood disorders are highly prevalent mental disorders that have a significant influence on the community. In addition to the clinical symptoms, it is known that subclinical mood symptoms can be often managed with self-help strategies. However, more evidence is needed to clarify self-help strategies that are optimal for managing these disorders. The Delphi method was used in this study to assess experts’ and the general public’s consensus on self-help strategies for improving and recovering from mood disorder symptoms and the feasibility of implementing treatment for these symptoms. A literature search identified 150 strategies that have been proposed as helpful for mood symptoms. A sample of 61 clinical experts and 81 members of the general public participated as panels. Both panels rated the “helpfulness” and “feasibility” of implementing each of these strategies. After three evaluation rounds, 20 strategies related to “helpfulness” and 19 related to “feasibility” for mood symptoms were endorsed by at least 70% of both panel members. Experts and the general public rated specific strategies very differently; however, there was considerable overall agreement about typical lifestyle and psychosocial strategies. It is recommended that these strategies be evaluated to clarify their potential for reducing mood symptoms’ burden, the possibility of being promoted to the public, and their impact.
Mindfulness-based interventions have demonstrated efficacy in reducing symptoms of depression, physical pain, sleep disturbances, and smoking, in the United States and increasingly in Japan. However, the efficacy and feasibility of mindfulness-based interventions in Japan is unknown and remains to be investigated. This is the first Japanese study to obtain feedback and report data on stress and physical symptoms before and after an eight-week, mindfulness-based intervention program. We have discussed the importance of these results from the Eastern perspective within the context of differences in psychological concepts between Western and Eastern countries and integrating and adopting psychological concepts for global living. We utilized the constructs of coping and coping styles, as defined by Beutler and his colleagues who summarized cross-cultural findings on coping styles and matched interventions to enhance coping abilities. We also addressed the significance of insight-oriented approaches in mindfulness-based interventions.
We assessed health behaviors and cognitions related to gaps in eating between the home environment and a new environment among international students living in Japan and compared the results with Japanese students. A questionnaire survey on eating awareness was conducted with international (n=209) and Japanese (n=176) students. The results identified factors related to international students before they arrived in Japan, which included (1) Control, defined as moderation in eating, and (2) Fulfillment, defined as self-indulgent eating, and factors after arriving in Japan, (a) Balance Awareness, defined as focusing on nutrient intake and striving to eat a balanced diet, and (b) Principles of Practice, defined as maintaining daily eating habits. Moreover, international students prepared meals and ate alone more frequently. Furthermore, they stated that their diets were less well-balanced after arriving in Japan. They also demonstrated less complicated principles of eating and less awareness of healthy eating practices than Japanese students. Finally, there was no significant relationship between sociocultural adaptation and the frequency of consuming Japanese food. It is concluded that models of cross-cultural dietary education should include both culture-general and culture-specific elements.
Investigating the relationship between psychology and culture takes three approaches: cross-cultural or trans-cultural psychology, indigenous psychology, and cultural or comparative psychology. This study focuses on the first category, the psychology of cross-cultural contacts and transitions, and introduce studies conducted by the author and colleagues. Based on this, investigations on international students’ cross-cultural adjustment in Japan, foreign workers in Japan, Japanese overseas students, and Japanese hosts are discussed. The study examined the following questions: (a) How do adjustment and maladjustment develop? (b) How is positive health maintained under different cultural environments and cross-cultural contacts? (c) What can Asian health psychology suggest about general psychology if Asian researchers focus closely on differences between Asian and Western cultures rather than assume a Western identity? Questions and findings of specific studies are illustrated, and perspectives and possibilities of investigating cross-cultural contact are discussed. Finally, future tasks and prospects for developing cross-cultural health psychology in Asia are outlined.
The appreciation expressed by older Japanese adults receiving care from foreign health care workers and the influence of cross-cultural care on successful aging were investigated. Data were collected from older adults in care facilities with and without foreign health care workers through semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire packet that included the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), the Meaningful Life Scale, a measure assessing perceived health status, and questions on relations with foreign care workers. The results of semi-structured interviews indicated that older adults had positive attitudes about foreign health care workers. Moreover, the “positive feelings” factor in the relationships with foreign health care workers significantly affected the GDS score. It was concluded that foreign health care working in care facilities improved older adults’ well-being and contributed to successful aging.
The bivalence of Japanese Brazilians (Nikkei) as a source of stress and support for Japanese people living in Brazil was investigated to obtain ideas for developing positive relationships between them. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 19 Japanese people on how they engage with Nikkei. A modified-grounded theory approach (M-GTA) was used to identify whether the relationship with Nikkei was a stress or support source. The results indicated that Nikkei were recognized as having both Brazilian and Japanese cultural traits. Japanese people unfamiliar with Brazilian life welcomed the Nikkei’s intermediary cultural support and were comforted by their Japanese traits. However, their image as being old-fashioned Japanese people was problematic. Moreover, Japanese people were fond of Brazilian cultural characteristics, although they were concerned about specific differences. Furthermore, Japanese people were stressed when they sensed difficulties due to biculturalism, and when they could not choose relationships or maintain their distance from Nikkei. It is suggested that biculturalism should be appropriately studied, and intercultural social skills developed for building positive relationships.
This study reports the international comparison of the relationship between a variety of questions pertaining to happiness and optimism/pessimism. The revised Life Orientation Test scores of 100 Japanese, 45 Dutch, and 100 Costa Ricans were statistically analyzed. The respondents’ happiness level was assessed using five single-item questions regarding present happiness, ideal happiness, present life satisfaction, Cantril’s Ladder of Life Scale, and predicted happiness five years later. The results indicated that the more optimistic the participants were, the happier or more positive they felt about their life, regardless of their nationality. We also found a significant country × pessimism interaction on ideal happiness, such that the ideal happiness of pessimistic Japanese people was lower than that of non-pessimistic Japanese people. Moreover, higher optimism scores predicted higher life satisfaction in Japanese than Dutch or Costa Rican respondents. The results also indicated that optimistic and non-pessimistic Japanese tended to have higher expectations about their future happiness. These findings suggest that the relationship between happiness and optimism/pessimism depends on nationality and the type of question regarding happiness.
Beutler and his colleagues have been developing an evidence-based method named Systematic Treatment Selection (STS) since 1990. This model serves as a psychotherapy system as well as an optimal treatment planning and delivery method, which is consistent with established scientific evidence across theories. Notably, STS posits that therapists can assess clients’ trait-like dispositional qualities and individually tailor their treatment to improve the outcome. Moreover, Beutler and his colleagues concluded that the efficacy of the two distinct treatment models could be predicted by clients’ relative reliance on one of two coping styles, externalizing or internalizing. Clients with externalizing coping styles are likely to benefit from behavioral and symptom-focused approaches, whereas those with internalizing coping styles are prone to benefit from interpersonal and insight-based approaches. These coping styles and their mechanisms are discussed through psychotherapy and neuroscience research. However, the potential role of coping styles in psychotherapy varies. Therefore, further evidence on STS between Western and Eastern cultures, especially regarding the mechanisms of internalizing coping style in communal cultures, is required in the future.
This study (1) developed the Japanese version of the Inventory of Statements About Self-injury (ISAS), a tool for assessing the functions of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and (2) classified NSSI in adolescents based on its functions. We administered a questionnaire to a community sample and gathered 592 responses, including those of 267 undergraduates who had experienced NSSI. The results of factor analysis indicated that the Japanese version of the ISAS was different from the original and was composed of three factors: “Distress coping functions,” “Interpersonal influence functions,” and “Identity maintenance functions.” Cluster analysis of the Japanese version of the ISAS scores indicated four clusters: “Habitual cluster,” “Distress coping cluster,” “Overlapped identity maintenance cluster,” and “Overlapped interpersonal influence cluster.” Each cluster’s clinical features indicated that the more the functions overlapped, the more severe were risks of suicide, anxiety, and depression. These results indicated that the significance of NSSI functions’ assessment was related to their overlap. These results suggested the usefulness of the functional approach to treatment.
The differential effects of rumination on attentional breadth was investigated by experimentally manipulating rumination from the perspective of thought content and valences of thinking-time. We randomly assigned 68 undergraduate and graduate students to negative, neutral, long-, and short-time thinking groups. Then, we administered a questionnaire, conducted a rumination manipulation and the modified Attentional Breadth Task. In this task, there are Close and Far conditions that have a narrow and wide attentional range depending on the location of the target stimulus, and ΔAttentional Narrowing Index (ΔANI) representing the differences between the correct response rate for a target in Close and Far conditions are calculated, such that higher ΔANI values indicate a narrower attention range. Results indicated that state rumination and negative emotions worsened and attentional breadth decreased when participants focused on negative thoughts for a long time. Moreover, a causal relationship between rumination and attentional breadth was suggested. Also, factors narrowing attentional breadth through rumination were identified based on the attentional scope model. It is suggested that future studies should consider whether depression or negative cognitive processing is worsened by narrowing attentional breadth.
Implementation intentions (IMPs) are if-then plans that help people attain their self-regulatory goals. IMPs are effective in changing health behaviors, including physical activity, diet, and smoking cessation. Recently, specific studies have applied IMPs to reducing or preventing mental health symptoms. However, only a few applications of IMPs to mental health promotion have been demonstrated in terms of universal prevention interventions such as for asymptomatic people in worksites and schools. This study addressed whether forming IMPs for mental health promotion behaviors could improve workers’ mental health. A quasi-experimental behavior change intervention study was conducted using if-then mental health promotion plans. The intervention group (n=81) specified IMPs using if-then plan sheet immediately following the baseline questionnaire. The plan sheet required them to link critical situations in their lives with mental health promotion behaviors for changing their mood. The intervention group was instructed to follow their plans for two weeks, whereas the control group (n=47) received general information about ordinary life. Results indicated that the intervention group significantly increased their mental health promotion behaviors in the follow-up period compared to the control group, including “interest and participation in a new activity” and “belonging to a group”. A significant relationship was found between the extent of practicing mental health promotion behaviors and awareness of improvements in mental health conditions. Volunteers in the intervention group reported practices that allow them to continue their if-then plans easily. The keys to ensuring effective if-then plans were (1) forming a frequently encountered if-part; (2) forming a reasonably easy-to-accomplish then-part for the corresponding if-part; and (3) ensuring that if- and then-parts are closely related. The knowledge gained from this study is expected to contribute to more extensive and informed mental health promotion campaigns for behavior change in the future.
Dolphin-assisted activities (DAAs), in which interactions with dolphins are incorporated into health-promotion behaviors, are a possible method of promoting mental health. We briefly reviewed the literature on the effects of DAAs on mood. The results of previous studies indicated that negative mood decreases, and positive mood increases during DAAs. Moreover, individuals that experienced DAAs showed better levels of positive and negative mood compared to those that had not experienced DAAs. Then, we investigated the effects of DAAs on the mood. The results also indicated that negative mood decreased, and positive engagement and tranquility increased during activities such as observing, touching, and swimming with dolphins. The magnitude of the increase in positive engagement was significantly higher in individuals that touched dolphins compared to those that merely observed dolphins. Changes in negative mood and tranquility were identical across individuals that touched, observed, and swam with dolphins. These and previous findings suggest that DAAs are a useful measure for individuals that are willing to undertake DAAs. Nevertheless, specific interactions during DAAs that result in mood improvements remain unclear. It is suggested that future studies should identify such interactions.
One of the major aims of health psychology is promoting mental health. Therefore, we developed a short Cognitive Behavioral Training program to Promote Well-Being (CBT-PWB) by enhancing psychological well-being. Japanese university students (N=18; 4 men and 14 women; mean age=20.5, SD=1.8) participated in the CBT-PWB program. They evaluated their psychological well-being, behavior that promoted well-being, positive and negative automatic thoughts, and personal values. Results of a linear mixed model indicated significant changes in psychological well-being, positive and negative automatic thoughts, and personal values. Moreover, the effects of the intervention were observed after a follow-up period. However, behaviors that promoted well-being did not change significantly at the post-intervention follow-up. These results suggest that CBT-PWB is a useful technique in the field of health psychology.
We investigated if beverage were a trigger for nostalgia resulting in psychological effects other than feelings that typically result from drinking a beverage. This study had a pre-post comparative design. Participants (N=487, age range 15–79 years) were instructed to make a beverage at home by themselves. We used a questionnaire to determine their mood before drinking the beverage, and their mood, perceived social support, and nostalgic emotions after drinking. Results indicated a decreased feeling of anxiety and loneliness after drinking, regardless of nostalgia. Moreover, participants who reported feeling nostalgic had a more positive and relaxed feelings as well as increased perceived social support from family and significant others, whereas this was not the case doe participants that did not feel nostalgic. Also, structural equation modeling indicated that nostalgia led to an increase in perceived social support via the increased positive mood. These findings suggest that the psychological effects of drinks are enhanced by nostalgia.
The Japanese national health insurance expenses have been increasing yearly and reached 40.8 trillion yen in 2014. A significant reason for this increase is the increasing number of patients suffering from non-communicable diseases, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus. Health guidance and guidelines for medical treatment involving psychological approaches, such as applied behavior change, have been proposed to solve this situation. However, most medical professionals have insufficient training in conducting psychological approaches, which might be efficacious. However, many issues, including analyzing the data on specific health guidance methods and daily practices for metabolic syndrome/diabetes treatment, as well as elucidating the current status and problems of treatment, must be addressed. Therefore, we evaluated the psychological approaches appropriate for metabolic syndrome/diabetes treatment. The results indicated the possibility of involving health psychologists and certified psychologists in medical treatment.
【Introduction】 The number of prior studies has reported that mental health problems related to Japanese school teachers have increased sharply during the last two decades, and have become a severe problem for school administration, as well as Japanese society. Therefore, this study is to develop a high school teacher-specific version of four stress-related scales, and to examine the hypothesis, based on the school stress model that stressors, self-efficacy, and coping predict teachers’ stress reactions. 【Methods】The sample of this study included 368 Japanese high school teachers (248 male and 120 female, mean age=42.2, SD=8.2). The participants voluntarily responded to a questionnaire survey that was composed of items in the teacher-specific stressor scale, the self-Efficacy scale, the coping scale, and the stress reaction scale. Exploratory factor analyses, confirmatory factor analyses, and reliability analyses were conducted to develop the four original scales. The hierarchical regression analyses were performed to confirm the relationships between the four scales. 【Results】The results of exploratory factor analyses indicated that the Stressor Scale, the Self-Efficacy Scale, the Coping Scale, and the Stress Reaction Scale consisted of two factors. All the subscales had satisfactory internal consistency as indicated by Cronbach’s alpha reliabilities, and fit indices of structural validities. The results of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that gender, stressors, self-efficacy, and coping, predicted stress reactions. Contrary to the hypothesis of this study, both approach and avoidance coping were associated with higher stress levels. Moreover, there was a limited impact of self-efficacy on the relationship between the stressor and the stress reaction, whereas coping failed to moderate the impact of stressors on stress reactions.【Conclusion】These results suggest that mental health interventions for reducing teachers’ stress burden should focus on addressing the causes of stress, as well as enhancing the teachers’ self-efficacy. Furthermore, more targeted support is needed for female teachers given their reports of elevated stress levels.