The Fukushima prefecture government health panel has announced evacuees and those who fall under the health screening scheme will now be required to undergo a mental health screening. It will start next month and include about 200,000 residents. Children will have their parents fill out a survey about their behavior, adults will be required to complete a survey themselves. Referrals to treatment resources will be available.
This will also include 20,000 pregnant women including those that have left the region.
This plan is extremely problematic in a number of ways. It appears to be mandatory, forcing people to submit to mental evaluation. The described program does not appear to have any mechanism for privacy. The mental evaluations are to be part of the study and may result in something that is normally an intensely private matter to become distributed information within the survey and possibly within the compensation process.
This concerning statement was made to the media:
“After the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, the number of people suffering from mental illness is believed to have increased due to radiation fears and changes in their living circumstances”.
This statement goes straight to blaming the victim and discounting all actual physical and mental impacts on people from exposure to radiation. This pretext for the study and the evacuees mental state is extremely problematic as there appears to be a lacking objectivity and an intent to have a predetermined outcome. We mentioned previously, the “radiophobia” blitz in Japan and how it intends to paint any concerns, stress or actual illness as an unfounded mental failing.
This also brings larger implications if any of this information collected in the study could be used in the compensation process where a diagnosis of mental heath concerns or the lack of any could be twisted against a plaintiff’s claim. A found mental health issue could be used to dismiss actual medical problems and distress, a finding of no mental health issues could also then be used to claim people did not have the right to certain distress or damages types of compensation.
The focus in Fukushima has been on this study rather than the support and recovery of the people injured by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Assuring both people’s privacy and access to unbiased medical and psychological care should take priority over the goals of the study.
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