News Releases & Research Results Development of an educational support program for the family members of “hikikomori” (socially withdrawn) people - Advances in addressing long-term social withdrawal -

News Releases & Research Results


The results of collaborative research conducted by Lecturer Takahiro Kato and Emeritus Professor Shigenobu Kanba of the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Kyushu University Hospital, Director Yoko Honda of the Fukuoka City Mental Health and Welfare Center, Associate Professor Motohiro Sakai of the Miyazaki University, Professor Kotaro Otsuka of the Iwate Medical University, and Director Kazuhiko Saito of the Aiiku Counseling Office.

The key results of research are as follows:

  • A 5-day educational support program for the family members of “hikikomori” people was developed through the application of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) [*1] and cognitive behavioral therapy [*2].
    *1: Education program for citizens developed in Australia. Hands-on learning techniques through practical training, such as role-play, for first-aid measures to quickly address the mental problems of close persons.
    *2: Short-term psychotherapy with sufficient evidence especially for depression.
  • Twenty-one parents participated in the program for a pilot trial and attended five sessions every other week (2 hours/session).
  • A 6-month follow-up survey showed behavioral changes for social adjustment. Specifically, skills to address fictional depressed “hikikomori” cases, prejudices to mental illnesses, and the social participation of hikikomori people were improved.
  • The program should be utilized by “hikikomori” support organizations nationwide to facilitate the visits and consultations of “hikikomori” people and address long-term social withdrawal.

This research project was conducted with the support of Research and Development Grants for Comprehensive Research for Persons with Disabilities by AMED.

The results of research were published in the international scientific journal (open access) Heliyon on January 8.



Last updated 2020.1.15