On October 6, the USJC New York Regional Committee, chaired by USJC Board Member Terry Suzuki (President and CEO of ORIX Corporation USA), hosted an in-person event on the topic of mental wellness trends in the Japanese American and Japanese community in New York at the Nippon Club. The discussion was moderated by USJC Council Leader Dr. Jeanette Takamura (Professor of Gerontology, Social Policy, and Leadership Entrepreneurship and Dean Emerita at the Columbia University School of Social Work.)
Dr. Richard Hara (Lecturer and Senior Associate Dean of MSW Education at the Columbia University School of Social Work) expanded on the strength-based social work framework for the Japanese American and Japanese communities respectively.
USJC Council Leader Dr. Kathleen Pike (Director of Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute) was able to share a unique perspective with the audience as the only non-Japanese panelist. Dr. Pike also utilized her experience residing in Japan for over a decade to discuss the significance of culture in mental wellness. Dr. Pike also mentioned that Western researchers are beginning to look more closely at Japan in this regard due to the fact that Japan’s culture recognizes the values of community and shared support.
Dr. Takashi Matsuki (Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) revealed that over the last few years, his client demographic has shifted from wives of Japanese expats to expat salary men. Dr. Matsuki found that although the number of Japanese speaking individuals who are seeking mental health assistance has increased, the stigma and focus on the virtue of “gaman” tend to persist within his clients both during and after treatment. Dr. Matsuki also shared the importance of refraining from making assumptions about a client because they share the same cultural identity.
The event wrapped up with a rich Q&A and networking session. We hope to maintain the momentum by creating more opportunities for necessary discussions about mental health. If you are interested in joining a community to discuss mental wellness, please email Mental Wellness Affinity Group via [email protected].
Click here to view more photos from the event.