A group of former health nurses conducted a survey among public health nurses in Miyagi Prefecture, one of the worst hit places areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. The major finding of the survey is that 60% of the responding nurses said they experienced some sort of mental crisis while conducting counseling for the survivors they were assisting.
A small number of respondents also said they are still suffering emotional problems to this day, two years after the disasters struck. They were also asked to freely comment on their experiences during the crisis, and some said that they felt useless because of their lack of training for such a situation while some lost confidence in themselves even if they had prior training. Some were also haunted by the thought that maybe they could have done more, but weren’t able to due to varying circumstances.
The respondents were also asked about what future measures they think should be undertaken to prevent the same situation to happen in disaster-stricken areas. Some said that there should be an increase of public health nurses available for counseling and assistance so as not to overwhelm them with the deluge of survivors to help. Some responded that nurses should nurture the ability to make judgement calls on things they can control. When asked about what challenges they encounter when visiting the temporary housing units, some issues are economic imbalances, alcoholism among men, and dementia among the elderly.
Some department and section leaders were also polled and some of the complaints they have is that there was no clear chain of command and that they were short-staffed during crucial days. As for the current state of their workplace, they said that some are still exhibiting worrying mental conditions while some have chosen to undergo psychological care themselves.