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  • Depressed? Consult with Int’l Mental Health Professionals Japan

    Posted by arudou debito on December 20th, 2007

    Hello Blog. How do you feel this time of year? Not too dusty, I hope. But I have to admit, I hate spending the Xmas-New Year Holidays in Japan. No semblance of a real Christmas atmosphere, absolutely boring nenmatsu-nenshi (TV’s Kouhaku is the pits), and no way for a Hokkaidoite like myself to get to a warmer clime unless we pay the minimum RT 50,000 yen airline connection “tax” to get to a bigger international airport.

    Not that I’m blaming Japan (or Hokkaido–we have to do pennance somehow for our magical summers)–that’s just the way it is, and part of the dues of choosing to live and be a part of this society. But I still don’t like it.

    I have my own strategies for dealing with it (writing, DVDs, trashy magazines, and pizza). For those who aren’t confident about their strategies and need some professional help, here’s information about a group in Japan called “International Mental Health Professionals Japan” which offers psychological services to an international clientele. Heard about it at a recent speech in Tokyo from Dr Jim McRae, President.

    Given the state of mental health services in this country (generally pretty lousy; most Japanese quasi-”counselors” will probably unhelpfully attribute any mental issue involving a NJ to a matter of “cultural differences”, and Japan doesn’t even have certifications for clinical psychologists), this group is a boon. Some friends and I have had horrible experiences trying to check friends (who were acting mentally erratically to the point of presenting a clear and present danger to others) into mental clinics in Japan. Many clinics/mental hospitals simply won’t take foreigners (claiming, again, cultural or language barriers), advising us to “send them home” for treatment.

    It’s nice to see professionals in Japan in the form of the IMHPJ below trying to help out. Spread the word.

    Happy Holidays–or as happy as you can make them. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ————————————–
    INTERNATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS JAPAN

    What is IMHPJ?
    (taken from their website and from a flyer I received from Dr Jim McRae)

    IMHPJ is a multidisciplinary professional association of therapists who provide mental health services to the international communities in Japan. Members are working in private practices or mental health related organizations worldwide.

    Founded in 1997, IMHPJ’s goals are to improve the quality, quantity, and accessibility of mental health services available to the international communities in Japan by:

    –maintaining an up-to-date database of professional therapists, where you can find the professional profile of the therapist of your choice.
    –providing a forum for discussing and making co-ordinated joint efforts related to important issues or events.
    –encouraging a high standard of ethical and professional performance for mental health professionals.
    –providing opportunities for continuing education for members.
    –facilitating peer support and networking among members and with related Japanese mental health organizations.

    Clinical Members hold a Masters Degree or higher and have supervised postgraduate clinical experience. Assocate Members work in fields related to mental health or are students or therapists not yet eligible for clinical membership.

    IMHPJ is multidisiplinary, including Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Family Therapists, and Child Psychologists etc.

    IMHPJ members offer a range of recognized theraputic approaches for the treatment of relationship issues, stress, anxiety, depression, abuse, cross-cultural issues, children’s emotional and educational problems, and many other issues. Many of our members also offer phone counseling.

    Native speakers offer therapy in English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Polish. Some members are bilingual.

    For more information, consult our website at:
    http://www.imhpj.org
    ENDS

    4 Responses to “Depressed? Consult with Int’l Mental Health Professionals Japan”

    1. vegetablej Says:

      You might be even more depressed if you were willing to pay for a flight out but absolutely refuse on principle to be fingerprinted and so are “trapped” in Japan until you leave for good.

      I know I am.

    2. TJJ Says:

      Just a quick question for anyone who knows, are these kind of services covered under the national health insurance?

    3. No cliches, please Says:

      As a current client of one of the IMHPJ members as well as a former client of a one-time member, I generally second your recommendation.

      But please do not repeat the oft repeated cliches about mental health services in Japan. Or medicine. There are good and bad. As in many places. True, Japan lags behind, but then again, an indigent patient in Los Angeles is also apt to be driven to a remote spot and dumped, as was seen in the Michael Moore film, Sicko. And I would guess that any place that rejected foreigners for mental health care would definitley be a place to avoid! So probably good they did not accept your friends.

      But where is someone in need of good care to go. I second yoru recommendation. And it is one that applies equally to speakers of Japanese and English.

      The professional that I no longer see is no longer a member of IMHPJ. I do not know if that means anything, but at the time he was. Therefore, the blanket statement that Japanese care is generally crappy COULD lead one to think that going to someone belonging to this group ius automatically going to be better.

      In fact, I currently see someone at TELL, and many of their counselors are also members of the association. (And no–counseling per se is not covered by government insurance, though I hear those with private insurance may be luckier.)

      But I needed a psychiatric referral that involved a drug regimen I was not sure was right, and TELL did the legwork and found me a Japanese psychiatrist who was both fully bilingual and also had a great bedside manner (well, I guess couch-side, since he didn’t make any house calls!!).

      So a recommendation for TELL (and IMHPJ). But no matter who you see, your mileage may vary. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. They are there to help you, and even if someone advertises their services in many English language publications that appeal to non Japanese and boasts about their ability to handle various intercultural issues, depression, existential angst, ingrown toenails and gout, don’t assume that they are automatically going to be better than a japanese psychiatrist or counselor.

      The whole feel seems to be in constant upheaval, and things are getting better on the psych front, though no doubt it is not easy to find a good mental health professional. TELL has a sliding scale. And I should say that my medical treatment for several other chronic conditions has been great at the following hospitals:

      Asthma (Showa University hospital, especially the pediatric section if it applies to you; I was a longtime patient of a recently deceased pediatrician and was moved to the pulmonary section, Dr. Adachi)

      Cardiac issues: Kamakura Shonan hospital, Dr. Saito

      Stomach and intestines: Jikei Idai (Most doctors) Also they have or had a diabetic specialist on staff in internal medicine who
      is first rate (I do not have the disease but she spotted signs of a drug-indcued ulcer and scheduled an immediate stomach camera exam.

      Of course no hospital or department is consistent. I had BAD experiences with the Sports Medicine dept of Jikei (one doctor was good, the other prescribed the medicine that caused the ulcer!).

      Anyway, I hope the info above is helpful.

      Given the state of mental health services in this country (generally pretty lousy; most Japanese quasi-”counselors” will probably unhelpfully attribute any mental issue involving a NJ to a matter of “cultural differences”, and Japan doesn’t even have certifications for clinical psychologists), this group is a boon. Some friends and I have had horrible experiences trying to check friends (who were acting mentally erratically to the point of presenting a clear and present danger to others) into mental clinics in Japan. Many clinics/mental hospitals simply won’t take foreigners (claiming, again, cultural or language barriers), advising us to “send them home” for treatment.

      It’s nice to see professionals in Japan in the form of the IMHPJ below trying to help out. Spread the word.

    4. Mari Says:

      Actually there are certifications for Clinical Psychologists in Japan (but not yet national licensing (国家資格 as you know). Here are links that I hope may be helpful for your readers.

      Best regards.

      「臨床心理士に出会うには」
      For finding one of the 19,830 Clinical Psychologists nationwide with certifications from the FJCBCP
      http://www.jsccp2.jp/rss/kensaku_web.html

      日本臨床心理士会
      Japanese Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists
      http://www.jsccp.jp/

      日本臨床心理士資格認定協会
      Foundation of the Japanese Certification Board for Clinical Psychologists
      http://www.fjcbcp.or.jp/

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