On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake caused a tsunami and led to the collapse of the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, thus severely damaging the surrounding area.
A systematic review was conducted in March 2015 with the following objectives: (1) to clarify the type, severity, and prevalence of mental health problems in the areas affected by the disaster, (2) to investigate trends in mental health problems over time, (3) to reveal demographic and socio-environmental characteristics associated with the post-disaster risk for developing mental health problems, and (4) to examine the impact of this natural disaster on the mental health of people in Fukushima.
Forty-two papers were included in this review. The reported prevalence of posttraumatic stress reaction exceeded 10% in all studies. While some longitudinal studies observed an improvement in posttraumatic stress reaction over time, none reported a decrease in depression. Most risk factors for mental health problems were related to resettlement of daily lives, preexisting illnesses, and social networks. Overall, the reported prevalence of posttraumatic stress reaction seemed to be higher in Fukushima than in other affected areas.
Given that some mental health problems had not improved even two years after the disaster occurred, long-term mental health support is required for people in the affected area. Our finding that mental health problems seemed to be more severe in residents of Fukushima than among those in other areas suggests that residents in this prefecture require special care.