Mental health problems top national average in Miyagi; heavy drinking a problem in Iwate


Five years after the Tohoku disaster, the incidence of mental health problems among survivors in Miyagi Prefecture remains above the national average, a health ministry survey showed Wednesday.

Moreover, it found the rate of heavy drinking among male survivors in Iwate Prefecture is almost double the national average.

But the survey found that incidences of mental health problems are on the decline in both Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

The survey, undertaken by two ministry teams each year for the past five years, found that the rate of psychological distress in afflicted Miyagi residents fell from 18.4 percent in 2011 to 14.3 percent in 2015. The national average is 10 percent.

The higher incidence is attributed to economic hardship and social isolation among survivors, a study team member said.

Also in Miyagi, the proportion of those who were certified by local governments as being in need of care jumped from 6.3 percent in 2011 to 16.2 percent in 2015, outpacing the national rate.

Meanwhile, the psychological distress rate fell to around the national average in Iwate. But the survey also found that the proportion of heavy drinkers among disaster-hit male residents in the prefecture was 1.81 times the national average in 2015, up from 1.69 times in 2011.

Another finding was that women living in makeshift housing complexes had significantly higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia.