This is a famous proverb that is often said to people who are facing problems here in Japan. From a young age this is taught to students in an effort to help them deal with everyday issues such as homework, tests, and even bullying. Students carry this into their adult lives as they face the daily stress of work, family, and social obligations. This and this alone seems to be the only tool/ words of wisdom that are given to them to make it through their entire lives. I believe this to be very troublesome for a few reasons including but not limited to school bullying, Karoshi (death from overwork), and the high suicide rate that plagues Japan. Despite all of this, I will not address Japanese mental health today. That topic itself deserves its own post and since I am not Japanese or a specialist I can’t speak fully on it at this time. No, this post is for us foreigners living in Japan and the problems we face and the help we can get to aid us through it.
As foreigners living in Japan we have our own set of unique problems and stress that we have or will face during our time here. Things that weren’t even a thought in our home countries suddenly become prevalent in our daily lives. Let’s look at the most common issues faced by foreigners.
- The inability to communicate effectively
- Culture Shock
- Home Sickness
- The feeling of isolation
- The Stares
Some people can face those issues just by having a few beers with a friend and having a good old rant fest, but what about those who might be a little more sensitive or those of us who have yet to meet a trusted friend that we can share our worries with? What about those of us who are already past just the worrying stage and are facing depression, anxiety, harmful thoughts? There is help for us here in Japan.
Japan does have mental healthcare available to those who need it. If you are proficient in Japanese you can ask your general doctor, health insurance company, or even check with your local city hall or International Culture Center. Don’t be afraid to ask your general doctor for help because it is their job to watch out for your health. They might even be able to provide you with medications to help you until you are able to see a certified specialist. The benefit of doing this is that it is covered by health insurance both national and private. The cost is comparably very low when put against the cost of healthcare in the U.S.A. You don’t have to worry about going bankrupt here in Japan.
TELL Mental Health Services
TELL is a mental health service based in Tokyo. They specialize in counseling and therapy services for foreigners living in Japan. They have services and certified mental health specialist who speak English as well as other languages. Many of them are foreigners themselves. TELL has offices in Tokyo but also have distant counseling services for adults, children, and family. TELL however, does not accept Japanese health insurance but arrangements can be made based on your income for payment.
If you ever find yourself in need of someone to talk to I encourage you to give one those two options a try. Your life in Japan should be full of adventure and joy but sometimes we need a little extra help to get us through those hard times. There is no shame in that. Wishing you happiness and health in all its forms! Until next time. Ja’ne!