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Regarding the June 7 editorial, “One (suicide) every 15 minutes“: The current worldwide recession is of course impacting Japan, too, so unless very proactive and well-funded local and nationwide suicide prevention programs and initiatives are taken immediately, it is very difficult to foresee as achievable the government’s previously stated intention of reducing the suicide rate to around 23,000 by 2016.

On the contrary, the numbers, and the human suffering, depression and misery that the people who become part of these numbers have to endure, may well stay at the current levels of the last 10 years. It could even get worse unless more is done to prevent this terrible loss of life.

The numbers of licensed psychiatrists (around 12,000 currently), Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists (16,732 as of 2007) and psychiatric social workers (39,108 as of 2009) must be increased. In order for professional mental health counseling and psychotherapy services to be covered for depression and other mental illnesses by public health insurance, it would seem advisable that positive action be taken to resume and complete negotiations on how to achieve national licensing for clinical psychologists in Japan through the health ministry — not just the education ministry. These discussions were ongoing among all concerned mental health professional authorities at select committee and ministerial levels during the Koizumi administration.

With the current economic recession adding even more hardship and stress to citizens’ lives, now would seem to be a prime opportunity to take a pro-active approach to finally getting government approval of national licensing for clinical psychologists who provide mental health care counseling and psychotherapy services to the people of Japan.

andrew grimes

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