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The Kumamoto Earthquakes and their Psychological Impact

AP photo
AP photo

Five weeks ago we marked the 5th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake by posting a reminder of the importance of disaster preparedness. And while emergency response agencies are on the ground now in Kumamoto providing medical help and food and shelter, TELL’s involvement in any disaster in Japan normally begins a week or so later, once the immediate needs of the affected community have been met.

In normal times, over 50 percent of callers to TELL’s Lifeline are Japanese, and during a disaster, Japanese speakers are well-served by Japan’s superb disaster preparedness infrastructure. Those who speak less-than-fluent Japanese, however, can find themselves wondering what is going on, and uncertain how to respond. The Lifeline can offer help, and our WikiTELL is also an excellent database of community resources.

Once things begin to return to normal following an earthquake or other disaster, many people feel anxious, or find their sleeping or eating patterns disrupted. Many people have trouble concentrating, and making decisions. At the same time, many people think, and say, “I’m fine.” But everyone who experiences or sees a disaster is affected by it. No one is untouched.

It’s completely normal to be “not fine”. It’s completely okay to reach out for help.

Click here to check out our guides to coping with mental health issues after a traumatic event, and to helping children to cope after a disaster, in English, Japanese, Chinese (tradition and simplified characters), French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Serbian, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Urdu and Uzbek.

And again, please don’t hesitate to call the Lifeline for help or advice if you need it, and check out our WikiTELL for a listing of thousands of resources for the international community in Japan.