What You Should Know About Mental Health in Japan and How to Find Help [Interview]

As expats, sometimes life can get stressful. Really stressful. Perhaps to the point of needing help in the form of counseling. But how do you get that kind of help in a foreign country, especially if the country's native language isn't English, or your native language?

I wondered about this myself when I was dealing with a bout of labrynthitis a couple years ago and the doctors kept telling me the reason I felt so bad was due to a mental issue. They were wrong, although I suppose it was technically, "all in my head." However, it got me thinking, what if I ever needed counseling here in Japan? Would I be able to find help? Someone that would understand me and not form opinions based on one culture?

So I sought out answers from an expert: psychotherapist and clinical psychologist Andrew Grimes of Tokyo Counseling Services. We discussed a few different things, including:
  • The most common psychological issues expats in Japan experience
  • How the work culture in Japan affects emotional well-being
  • How counseling and psychotherapy are addressed in Japan versus western countries
  • How to find an English-speaking counselor if you don't live in Tokyo or another major city
  • What you should be aware of when preparing a move to Japan and ways you should prepare, especially if you have a family
  • Culture shock, when it happens, what it might look like and how to deal with it
  • Why getting out of the "expat bubble" sometimes can be good for your mental/emotional health
  • What mental health professionals in Japan have been doing to help the recovery process in Tohoku

Today we're doing something a little different with this interview - you'll find it below in audio form rather than text (although hopefully I can get it transcribed eventually). It's my first audio interview, so you'll have to excuse the fact I'm not quite as talented as the Japan podcasters out there, but I think the content in this interview if insightful and worth a listen.

Click here to listen to the interview.


Please check out Tokyo Counseling Services:

Tokyo Counseling Services
Address: KS Residence, Daizawa 2-30-21, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, Japan. 155-0032
Phone: 03-5431-3096
Fax: 03-5431-3097
Email: tokyocounselingservices@gmail.com

Resources for finding an English-speaking psychologist or psychotherapist in Japan 

Some were mentioned in the interview, plus a few more:

AMDA International Medical Information Center - They help find medical providers in Japan who speak your native language, including English and several other languages.

Japan Healthcare Info - Help finding an English-speaking medical provider in Japan

The Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists (JSCCP) provides a resource (Japanese-only) that helps locate JSCCP-approved therapists in any part of Japan, and can be searched for by language, among other specifications. You can use a browser translation tool to help you navigate it, or ask someone you trust who can help you read it and search.

Wiki-tell and Tokyo English Life Line (offers free anonymous telephone counseling and online resources)

Himawari - Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center (Tokyo area only) - Find a hospital with English-speaking doctors in the Tokyo area.

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