Updated: Aug 8
Spring is coming to Japan, and we are all looking forward to the nicer, warmer weather. But this is also a time, here in Japan, when people are in the process of change. In April, new employees begin in new companies; people move to new apartments, and students begin a new school year or enter university.
This can create a great deal of stress for those involved in these changes, and for people dealing with depression or being challenged by other mental health issues, the changes can be a profound upheaval to their routines. The stress check program was implemented by the government in 2014, which focused on the psychosocial stress of the workplace. However, the information was problematic because of the fear of information being leaked, and companies were known to use that information to disadvantage the employee (Kawakami & Tsutsumi, 2015). However, further review of the program (Tsutsumi et al., 2020) shows a 3.3% reduction in workplace stress. However, the result is that we have difficulty ascertaining the effectiveness of this program in relieving stress which highlights a particular problem in workplaces in identifying people who could be potentially dealing with mental health issues and working on creating interventions to assist them.
Depression is considered one of the primary mental health issues linked with suicidal ideation and suicide (Takahashi, 2001). Given the extensive workplace hours expected by most Japanese companies, the term overwork suicide has become part of the vocabulary in Japanese psychology (Targum & Kitanaka, 2012). For those with depression, it can create a difficult and risky environment. A big part of overcoming this risk is ensuring that the individual has the proper support or has sought assistance from a therapist or psychologist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective method to work with clients to deal with their conditions (Hofmann et al., 2012).
Anyone who feels overwhelmed should seek appropriate mental health assistance or seek out a referral to take the first steps in working on improving their condition.
Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J., Sawyer, A. T., & Fang, A. (2012). The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research, 36(5), 427–440. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1
Kawakami, N., & Tsutsumi, A. (2015). The Stress Check Program: a new national policy for monitoring and screening psychosocial stress in the workplace in Japan. Journal of occupational health, 15-0001.
Takahashi, Y. (2001). Depression and suicide. Japan Medical Association Journal, 44(8), 359-363.
Targum, S. D., & Kitanaka, J. (2012). Overwork suicide in Japan: a national crisis. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 9(2), 35–38.
Tsutsumi, A., Sasaki, N., Komase, Y., Watanabe, K., Inoue, A., Imamura, K., & Kawakami, N. (2020). Implementation and effectiveness of the Stress Check Program, a national program to monitor and control workplace psychosocial factors in Japan: a systematic review. Translated secondary publication. International Journal of Workplace Health Management.