Medicalization and Youth Support

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Satoshi OTAYA, the University of Tokyo, Japan
This study investigates how the medical concepts of developmental disorder and mental disorder are understood in the context of support for young people in Japan.

In Japan, particularly since 2000s, the societal participation of young people living in a state of “hikikomori” (social withdrawal) was recognized as a problem, and a variety of measures were taken to address it. “Hikikomori” refers to a state in which a person neither goes to work nor school, has almost no interaction with people outside of his or her family, and is cut off from social relationships. However, certain facts have become clear in the process of institutionalizing support targeted toward such young people: among “hikikomori” youth, there are young people who are suspected to have more developmental disorders or mental disorders than anticipated, and youth support organizations not originally intended to support people with disorders are taking on this function, providing de facto support to young people suspected to have developmental disorders or mental disorder. Society has increasingly been paying more attention to developmental disorders, in recent years, and supporting young people has also become an important issue.

Under such circumstances, youth support organizations need to encourage young people with suspected disorders to be aware of and understand their own traits and symptoms and connect young people with the appropriate organizations and systems. Young people need to accept that they have disorders and work toward finding employment. This study conducted fieldwork in a certain youth support organization, analyzing what methods and ethics support personnel use to avoid stigmatizing the label of “disorder” and what kinds of resources young people use to understand and accept their own traits.

Based on the above data, we will raise questions about the medicalization of issues that young people experience and the scope of youth support policies.