"Tsunami Children" of Japan Suffering from Trauma Issues

A new Japanese government report indicates that one in four nursery school children who experienced the devastating tsunami in March 2011 is experiencing psychiatric symptoms.   Government experts suggest that these symptoms could lead to lifelong mental health issues without proper treatment.    According to the research team lead by Shigeo Kure of Tohoku University, over 25 percent of children between the ages of three and five who were exposed to the tsunami are reporting vertigo, nausea, and headaches with some children displaying violent outbursts and social withdrawal.    While many children can be expected to cope with their symptoms, others may require treatment to avoid developing later problems including developmental disorders and learning issues.  

In discussing the findings, Professor Kure stated that he did not expect the percentage of children requiring help to be as high as it ws.  “These children who were part of our study have received and will keep receiving psychiatric care in the coming years, but another issue is how to make contact with children whose need for psychiatric care has not yet been identified,” he said.    The problem is complicated by the lack of treatment professionals to deal with all the children needing help which could lead to critical delays in receiving treatment.  

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake which generated the massive tsunami which struck Japan's northeast coast killed 18,000 people and left thousands more homeless.   Along with the disaster itself, the resulting Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to unfold and humanitarian relief For many, the  long-term psychological toll of this disaster may last for generations.

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