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[Activity Report] HGPI Mental Health Policy Project to Assess State of and Examine the future approaches to Mental Health and Welfare Support Systems at Local Governments as Part of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Project

Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) will conduct Assess State of and Examine the future approaches to Mental Health and Welfare Support Systems at Local Governments as part of the FY2021 Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Project for the Promotion of Comprehensive Welfare for Persons with Disabilities (First Stage).

Efforts for mental health policy have been underway at HGPI through its Mental Health Policy Project which began in FY2019. This project has gathered various parties from the field of mental health including people affected by mental disorders, opinion leaders, and related organizations from industry, government, academia, and civil society from Japan and overseas to participate in expert meetings. At those meetings, we are working to identify issues and discussion points within the current circumstances surrounding mental health policy and to examine approaches to solving those issues. Through those efforts, we presented a policy proposal entitled, “Mental Health 2020 – Proposal for Tomorrow” in July 2020.

In that proposal, Perspective 3 reads “Build an infrastructure for community living that provides places to live, places to work, and places to belong” and mentions forms of support several times, mainly employment and living support. Creating a foundation for these forms of support means establishing regional mental health and welfare support systems. When creating such systems in Japan, it is also essential to ensure they are equipped with sufficient disaster preparation measures that enable people to live in their communities with peace of mind, so we have also worked to address disaster mental health in this project. To that end, we held the “Expert Meeting on Community Building for Disaster Mental Health” in March 2021.

Each local government has a significant role to play in providing communities with disaster mental health support. Some local governments are even taking leadership in planning support systems, such as by creating guidelines for dispatching and onboarding Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Teams (DPATs) immediately after disasters. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that community support plans are still insufficient with regards to collaboration involving parties like DPATs, core hospitals for disaster mental health care, mental health care centers, and mental health and welfare centers. This may be one reason for support disparities among regions.

Through activities like conducting surveys of local governments and holding expert meetings, this project will examine current initiatives and identify more effective support provision methods with the goal of creating fundamental reference materials for all local governments to use when formulating measures for disaster mental health and welfare.

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