Acute Mental Health Needs Duration during Major Disasters: A Phenomenological Experience of Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Teams (DPATs) in Japan

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 27;17(5):1530. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17051530.


Background: How long acute mental health needs continue after the disaster are problems which must be addressed in the treatment of victims. The aim of this study is to determine victims' needs by examining activity data from Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Teams (DPATs) in Japan.

Methods: Data from four disasters were extracted from the disaster mental health information support system (DMHISS) database, and the transition of the number of consultations and the activity period were examined.

Results: Common to all four disasters, the number of consultations increased rapidly from 0-2 days, reaching a peak within about a week. The partial correlation coefficient between the number of days of activity and the maximum number of victims showed significance. The number of victims and days of activity can be used to obtain a regression curve.

Conclusions: This is the first report to reveal that mental health needs are the greatest in the hyper-acute stage, and the need for consultation and the duration of needs depends on the number of victims.

Keywords: DMHISS; DPAT (Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Team); Japan; Kumamoto earthquake; acute mental health needs; disaster; disaster psychiatry; duration of activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Planning
  • Disasters*
  • Earthquakes*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation