Even though much of the visible debris from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident of March 2011 has been cleared away, there are still tender wounds remaining in the hearts and minds of many children and their families in Japan’s Tohoku region. Whole family units, neighbourhoods and entire communities were devastated by the event. This has forced hundreds of thousands of children, mothers and their families to live in temporary housing units. Among these are the more than 71,000 children and mothers who have been evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture’s eastern districts. They have been scattered throughout Japan, many living separated from their fathers, grandparents and friends. In such unstable, impermanent and stressful circumstances children can be especially susceptible to intense anxiety, depression and in time PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), the symptoms of which can take many years to manifest. Recent government surveys suggest 1 in 3 children in Tohoku are already suffering from mental health issues.
APRICOT (Allied Psychotherapy Relief Initiative for the Children of Tohoku) is a nonprofit fund supporting the ongoing efforts of Japan’s mental health professionals working directly in the Tohoku Region to provide counselling relief services for children and their families who have been affected by the triple disasters. Our mission is to raise awareness and funding so these children and their families can receive the long-term mental health care they will need to ensure Tohoku recovers.
APRICOT is a 100% voluntary project, comprised of experienced Japanese and non-Japanese mental health professionals, as well as people from backgrounds as diverse as finance, business and media. Being 100% volunteer-run, we don’t take salaries. We don’t take expenses. We do take all the goodwill and help we can get. All funds raised by APRICOT go to registered mental health NPOs and other well-vetted organizations working in Tohoku to be used to support the mental health of children in the region. Recipient organizations include the disaster relief mental health committees of the Japan Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists (JSCCP) and Fukushima Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists (FSCPP).
Much still needs to be done in Tohoku both now and over the long term. The work of mental health professionals in the Tohoku region is aimed at healing and, as far as possible, preventing the onset of anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD and other illnesses that can develop in children during both short-term and long-term life events. APRICOT is a movement dedicated to ensuring that children in Tohoku will have the support they need until each and every one of them reaches adulthood.