241.1 Experience of the 3.11 disaster and mental health among adolescents in Fukushima, Japan

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Takashi ASAKURA , Laboratory of Health and Social Behavior, Tokyo Gakugei University, Tokyo, Japan
Kazuko SASAHARA , Graduate School of Education, Tokyo Gakugei University, Tokyo, Japan
Disaster struck on March 11, 2011 when Japan was struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami, followed by a meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima. Japanese people and society will struggle with this natural and technological disaster for the foreseeable future.

    According to a report by the National Police Agency on October 6, 15,828 were died and 3,754 were missing; 71,578 people are living in temporary houses; and about 113,000 people were forced to evacuate from special alert areas because of serious radioactive contamination. Furthermore, a substantial number of people fear for the effect of radioactive nuclides in food on health.

    Despite this severe disruption, the social order was maintained and sufferrs and victims alike experienced solidarity and reciprocity amid a chaotic aftermath. It is surprising that not only despair or fragileness but also hope or resilience emerged simultaneously among people who were affected by the disaster.

    In this presentation, we will show how high school students experienced the disaster and following recovery process and how their experiences affect their physical and mental health from both qualitative and quantitative research performed in a public high school located at distance of about 26 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

    We performed three-month follow-up study targeted on more than 900 students to clarify connection of typical victim patterns created by adding up four different disasters, that is, the 3.11 earthquake, aftershocks, tsunami, and radioactive contamination, with their health. We also examined changes in their health between May and July in 2011.

     Based on findings of a qualitative study using a self-writing questionnaire, we will perform a quantitative study to investigate relationship of their perception of the damage in their lives caused by the disaster and recovery from it to their health and hope.