Looking into Japan, it is a country filled with a strong culture with an immense number of traditional dishes, music, history, and so much more. With the population standing at about 270 million people, majority of the population stand between the ages of 25 to 54, making up 37.5% of the population that undergoes the most stress in following the many social norms within the country (Central Intelligence Agency, 2010). Japan has universal health care, making it very easy for its citizens to receive any sort of medical attention they may need. Their health care covers medical, dental, and prescription drugs and without the need for gatekeeps, people go to the doctor on an average of fifteen times a year without being in debt due to medical procedures (Kanehara, Umede, Kawakami,2015). Even though medical attention is accessible to majority of the population since about 78% of the population lives in urban areas, the need for mental health is not given the proper attention it needs. Family structure is also an important concept in the Japanese culture as well as maintaining an important social unit and harmony. It is said that the Japanese are very conscious as to how they perceive themselves to their peers and also how they present themselves. Shame and isolation tend to run high if there are any issues occurring in one’s personal life that could affect the social unit such as being let go from a job for example (Russell, Metraux, Tohen, 2016).
Throughout the years, Japan has been reporting a high amount of suicide cases among the population and within the last year, more than 25,000 people took their own lives. Majority of those deaths were men and it has been observed that suicide is the biggest killer of men in Japan aged from 20-40 (Wingfield-Hayes, 2015). Some of the risk factors that have a major influence on this crisis mostly originates from unemployment and financial pressure, and technology isolation. Japan used to be known as the land of lifetime employment but with the Asian Financial Crisis that occurs in 1998 and again in 2008 with the worldwide financial crisis, suicide numbers skyrocketed. Since suicide is not considered a sin, they take it upon themselves as a form of responsible to basically remove themselves from the situation. Have a stable job is viewed highly important in the Japanese and there is shame upon the individual and the family if they do not have one. Isolation then gradually ties into the snowball effect as a risk because the individual may remove themselves from their social environment, therefore withdrawing any sense of communication to the outside world. Without being near people and expressing one’s emotions, it could potentially add on to one’s depression or to other mental disorders. Anxiety tends to rise as they are not sure how to handle their situation and feel as if they have no other place to turn to in order to get better, besides going through with suicide. Mental illness is still considered taboo in Japan and that a led to a shortage of psychiatrists within the country (Wingfield-Hayes, 2015).
Without the proper structure of mental healthcare, it has made it more difficult for citizens to seek help along with the social stigma surrounding the topic. The most frequently reported reason for not seeking mental health care is because it was low perceived and that is something that needs to change because lives are being lost when help can be provided for the better (Kanehara, Umedea, Kawakami, 2015). The goal within the country should be focused on eliminating the social stigma on mental health by making it more accessible within communities with awareness on the urban Japanese population between the ages of 25-40. This should lead to a decrease of the overall number of suicides to about 19,800 in a tenyear time period.
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