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» [Mainichi Newspaper] A story of child PTSD by Fukushima nuclear disaster

A story written in Mainichi Newspaper on the issue of Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Teams (DPATs) was one 44-year-old mother who evacuated with her two young children from Fukushima Prefecture to Tokyo learned that her children had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and says she wishes she had received faster psychiatric aid for them.

Two days after the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster began, the woman evacuated with the children while her husband stayed behind. She evacuated to five different locations before settling in her current address in July 2011. Her 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son began attending a local elementary school, but problems soon manifested. The son suddenly couldn’t write kanji characters he should have known, while the daughter started asking things like whether she would be able to have children in the future. At school, other students picked on them, saying they were irradiated or that they would die in a few years.

By the second semester, the daughter had lost her enthusiasm to study, while the son had become hyperactive. Even now, the daughter hardly says anything about what happens at school.

“They were like different people from before the earthquake, but I didn’t want to think that they had psychiatric problems,” says the mother.

When she took the children to a pediatrician in December 2011, they were diagnosed with PTSD. It was the first time they had been given psychiatric care since the disaster.

“I tried to protect their physical health, and failed to protect their mental health,” says the mother.

“We were trying so hard to get by in an unfamiliar place, I didn’t get around to thinking about their mental state. If they had received care early on, the problems probably wouldn’t have lasted this long,” says the mother.

Though psychiatrists arrived to help evacuees after the March 2011 disasters, evacuees like the mother who left Fukushima Prefecture in evacuation from the nuclear disaster received hardly any help. Even if DPATs are established, many evacuees may similarly fall through the cracks after a future disaster.
<Media Report>
Prefectures slow to prepare psychiatric teams for disasters (Mainichi Newspaper)

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