Japan Data

Nearly a Third of Japanese High School Students Show Depression Symptoms

Health Education Society Lifestyle

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the lives of Japanese students, as club activities are limited, events and trips canceled, and talking during lunchtime forbidden.

A year has elapsed since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of online surveys have been conducted by the National Center for Child Health and Development to gauge how the socioeconomic changes resulting from the pandemic have affected the physical and mental wellbeing of children in Japan.

A total of 3,705 parents or guardians and 924 children were surveyed for the period from November to December 2020. The questions regarding stress revealed that symptoms of depression of a moderate level or higher were present in 15% of elementary students from grades four to six, in 24% of junior high school students, and 30% of high school students. Some 6% of all students from grade four of elementary school and higher said that every day they either felt like it would be better to die or wanted to injure themselves, and they had considered either suicide or self-harm. The results show how serious the levels of anxiety and stress are among students. Meanwhile, 29% of parents and guardians said that they were experiencing symptoms of depression at a moderate level or higher. The survey relied on international standards for measuring depression.

Some of the comments about personal concerns received from children answering the survey included the following: “Are we going to be afraid of the coronavirus for the rest of our lives? Anyone can catch a cold, no matter how much care they take, so why are we expected to always stay inside? I only have so much time to live, and there are places I want to go and people I want to meet” (fifth-grade boy in Hokkaidō). “Except for classes, all of the other school activities have been canceled. How come adults have told schools to limit students from going outside, but those same adults just do whatever they want? I can’t understand that” (girl in the second year of high school in Aichi Prefecture).

The National Center for Global Health and Medicine has established an email counselling service for children anxious about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

depression mental health coronavirus COVID-19