Treating early mental health and post-traumatic symptoms of children in the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake


Sakai Child Rehabilitation Center, 5-1 Shiroyamadai, Sakai, Japan.


In this article we report on the support facilities for child mental health after the earthquake in Kobe. We believe that the most important function is the ability to cope with the confused situation on-the-spot as there were no means of transport and facilities for medical treatment had been paralyzed.

Establishing contact with people outside the stricken area is of great help immediately following a disaster. After the earthquake many children were psychologically confused and people were therefore concerned with mental health care, especially for their children. However, there were only a few cases of patients seeing their doctors in medical centers. They needed information booklets or case reports to refer to.

Five months after the disaster symptoms such as acute uneasiness or terror seem to be few and severely ill patients have started to recover. There are few case reports on children who have had difficulties in adapting to educational organization such as day nurseries and elementary schools. However, recently there has been an increase in the number of bone fractures possibly due to decline in resistance. Means of dealing with child mental health are now being examined because some children are still suffering posttraumatic symptoms.

In this report we analyze the rapid recognition of children's mental health problems at home, in the school and in society and examine the importance of close mother-child, family and relative relationships.