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    Faced with one of the highest suicide rates even in Japan, Aomori Prefecture has at least one town that isn’t just going to roll over and play dead. The government of Rokunohemachi is introducing a new “Save our reputation–stay alive!” program. Well, no, because they weren’t savvy enough to hire me as their PR director, that’s not their tag line. They decided to go with the old give-away ploy:

    Alarmed, Rokunohemachi town office decided to provide each household within its jurisdiction with a “mental health card” appealing to anyone in emotional distress to visit one of five counseling offices.

    Cardholders can seek help free of charge at any of the centers, located at three hospitals, a dental clinic and a home-care support center.

    A dental clinic? Considering what a lot of dentists here dispense as care, you’d think visiting one would be likely, if anything, to send the unstable right over the edge. But here it is again:

    Town officials hope that the project, which will begin Tuesday, will help detect the early signs of depression.

    If depression is suspected, staff at the centers can refer the victim to a psychiatrist.

    The five centers are staffed with a total of 16 nurses and dental hygienists.

    They were registered as “mental care nurses” in November after completing a training seminar.

    A training seminar is all you need to be certified as a mental care nurse? I have no professional knowledge of this, and the translation may not say the same thing as the original, but isn’t dealing with depressed people who are thinking of offing themselves kind of…tricky? I suppose the “training seminar” could have covered a lot of material, and it’s got to be better than the preparation the nurses had before. (As you might imagine, seeking professional help for mental and emotional problems is frowned on in Japan, and stimulus for the development of psychotherapy is correspondingly low.) If the idea is simply to prepare nurses to assess who needs referring to a psychiatrist who can make a real diagnosis, it might be a good investment.

    2 Responses to “精神病”

    1. John says:

      That’s funny, they must have climbed, because in the 1998 – 2000 time period they were well behind Osaka, a couple of cities in Iwate and Hokkaido, and a bunch of other prefectures.
      And EVERYONE in Japan is depressed about going to the dentist.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Perhaps Osaka and the rest have discovered the life-affirming magic of free dental care?