Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-Socio-Economic Factors

Tsujiuchi, Takuya (2015). Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-Socio-Economic Factors. Fukushima Global Communication Programme Working Paper Series. United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Tsujiuchi, Takuya
    Title Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-Socio-Economic Factors
    Series Title Fukushima Global Communication Programme Working Paper Series
    Volume/Issue No. 8
    Publication Date 2015-12
    Place of Publication Tokyo
    Publisher United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability
    Pages 7
    Language eng
    Abstract The Great East Japan Earthquake, GEJE, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster forced 150,000 citizens to evacuate from radioactive contaminated area after March, 2011. Although 80% of the evacuees did not have accurate information and most of them thought the evacuation would last only for several days, more than 60,000 residents are still in evacuation status. The authors performed the multi-method studies from the early stages; anthropological field work study, semi-structural interview study, and large-scale questionnaire survey. All these studies were conducted as a “response” to the “call” from the evacuees, victims, parties concerned, supporters, and administrators. Focusing the results of the five large-scale questionnaire survey jointed with private support group “Shinsai-Shien-Network Saitama (SSN)” and “Nihon-Housou-Kyokai (NHK)”, we determined a high-risk presence of probable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in evacuated residents. By the result of multiple logistic regression analysis, the significant predictors of probable PTSD were loss of employment, economic difficulty, concerns about compensation, and lost social ties. The serious consequences of the nuclear disaster, especially many of the socio-economic factors, were linked to psychological distress and suffering. It is known that the prevalence of PTSD from a human-made or technological disaster is often higher than the rates of PTSD from a natural disaster. Further, it is suggested that the prolonged uncertainty regarding the salvation of the deceased after the event might partially account for the prolonged PTSD that is often found. Therefore, the high levels of probable PTSD in our results are possibility related to the disaster being a human-made disaster. According to the results of our comprehensive study, the current major issues encountered by the evacuees are; the split up of families, the disintegration of communities, and disparities in compensation among evacuation zones. Therefore, it can be determined that “structural violence” (Johan Galtung, 1969) has had a major impact afflicting victims’ lives. The main structural violence affecting the victims of the Fukushima disaster stems from the government policy on “reparation” and “repatriation (returning plan)”. The evacuees’ psychological and social sufferings simultaneously involve health, welfare, legal, political, economic, and moral issues. It is apparent that, they were injured and inflicted by the social forces. The mental health problems reported by the evacuees are not individual or personal in origin, but rather, they should be understood as a context of social responsibility to the disaster. Therefore, it is most important to resolve the various social issues caused by structural violence in order to decrease the various psychological stresses impacting the health and mental health of the victims.
    Keyword Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
    Copyright Holder United Nations University
    Copyright Year 2015
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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