After a 9.0-earthquake and tsunami unleashed the worst natural disaster in Japan’s history, International Medical Corps is working with the Japanese government, local non-profit organizations, and local communities to help them recover and rebuild.
On the ground 48 hours after the disaster, International Medical Corps assessed the immediate and longer term needs of isolated coastal communities north of Sendai and found mental health to be a profound gap in the humanitarian effort. As a global leader in emergency mental health response, International Medical Corps is working to build the capacity of local organizations and first-responders to identify and fulfill the mental health needs of survivors.
As part of these efforts, International Medical Corps partnered with Tokyo English Life Line (TELL), a telephone counseling service, and is training their counselors in psychological first aid and other techniques crucial to supporting disaster survivors. Click here for eyewitness accounts of the tsunami and earthquake, told by TELL emergency hotline counselors.
Together with TELL, International Medical Corps also held workshops for parents and teachers on how to create a supportive environment for children – as well as workshops for staff from different companies on coping skills for management and employees. International Medical Corps also distributed handouts on positive coping strategies to people in the affected areas and organized a two-day mental health and psychosocial conference that drew 100 students, teachers, and professionals from across the country.
In addition to building Japan’s mental health response capabilities, International Medical Corps also delivered hot meals to the internally displaced; supplied medications such as nasal sprays antihistamines, and eye drops and baby foods to affected people; donated computers and data cards to improve coordination among Miyagi Prefecture offices, regional coordination centers, and evacuation centers; and provided washing machines, water tanks, and other needed materials to Ogatsu-machi, a small fishing village that was totally isolated after the tsunami.
We are also working with Peace Boat, a local organization, to provide hot meals, non-food items, and cleaning supplies to affected homes and communities and are providing rental cars and computers to the local Japanese NGO, SHARE, so that they can deliver health services to people’s homes.