Volunteer experiences in community housing during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, Japan
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The recovery phase of disasters is long term and the victims require intensive support. Experiences in disasters can be traumatic and affect people physically and psychologically. Recovery is not only about the rebuilding of infrastructure in the affected area but also about the rehabilitation of people and the rebuilding of their life. The importance of long-term mental health care after disasters has been emphasized in the literature and the authors’ volunteer participation during the Japanese Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995 reinforced its importance. This article reports on the authors’ experiences as health professional volunteers caring for dislocated people living in temporary housing after the earthquake, when kodokushi (death alone and, initially, unnoticed) and alcoholism claimed the life of some of these people.