April 11, 2018

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By Takashi Uchino and Takahiro Nemoto, Tokyo, Japan.

The Hokkaido International Mental Health Innovation Workshop was recently held in Kiroro Ski Resort, Hokkaido, Japan, from January 28 to February 2 this year. The workshop aimed to provide a new incarnation of the previously successful “Winter Workshop in Schizophrenia” format, combining the opportunity to participate in winter sports with cutting edge mental health research and clinical expertise. Kiroro, a mecca for skiers from all over the world because of its excellent powder snow, provided an ideal location for the gathering of approximately 40 experts in mental health from various countries. This relatively modest number and highly social setting allowed for in-depth and intimate face-to-face discussion and collaboration among participants. Each day of the workshop was comprised of three presentations and a panel discussion. Throughout the workshop, the current situation and future vision of early intervention in each country was presented and explored through lively and progressive discussion.

We are two psychiatrists that participated, Takashi Uchino and Takahiro Nemoto from Toho University School of Medicine, a leading center for early intervention in Japan.

We presented on the current situation and issues for early intervention in Japan, especially the high suicide rate in Japan compared to other parts of the world and long periods of hospitalisation experienced by people with mental illness.

We learned of the latest evidence and trends of early intervention. One of the highlights of the three days was hearing about the ‘headspace’ centres in Australia, which provide early intervention services for young people. They offer a one-stop service covering the areas of physical health, mental health, work and school support along with assistance in promoting young people’s wellbeing.

Recently, lots of new technologies have been used in psychiatry as well as early intervention research and practice. It was interesting to hear from many speakers who are using state of the art technologies, such as virtual reality for cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), internet-based CBT, online counseling systems and social networking services for mental health in order to provide better quality of treatment and increase accesses to mental health services.

The next workshop will be held in Hokkaido from January 13 to 18 in 2019.

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