Written by: Grace Gettig
Major: Japanese and Global and International Studies
Program: Ritsumeikan University
I’d like to share my experience with the American Clinic Tokyo with you guys, just in case it could help anyone studying abroad in Tokyo. I know this isn’t the funnest thing to talk about, but you need to take care of yourself, at home and abroad.
Studying abroad is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. There are so many things I’ve gained from this experience. I’ve have my fair share of struggles though.
As I mentioned in one of my past blog posts, I deal with some mental health issues. That didn’t stop me from coming to Japan though. I’ve had ups and downs throughout my time here, but I found ways to deal with them myself or with the help of my loved ones.
Recently, things have gotten to a point that I decided to seek professional help.
Now, I’m sure there are plenty of trustworthy psychiatrists in the Saitama and Tokyo areas, but my Japanese isn’t at a level where I would be confident I could communicate exactly what’s going on with me.
And so, I decided to go to American Clinic Tokyo, where the staff speak English and there’s an English Psychiatrist in residence.
I made an appointment through email, and then was asked to fill out an online health assessment. I would say it took about 45 minutes for me to fill out. Obviously, they want to get a general idea of your health before you go in for your appointment. The assessment was on Psynary, a medical treatment tracking website.
After I completed the assessment, I emailed the clinic back and they gave me my date and time for an appointment.
American Clinic Tokyo is located in Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo. The closest train station is Tameike-Sanno Station. The easiest exit from the station is Exit 14. Then the clinic is right across the street.
When I entered the building, I took the elevator right inside the door to the 3rd floor.
The office was small, but very clean and modern. They had American pop music playing, and a TV set to an American channel. That was interesting.
I’m glad I got there a bit early because they had me fill out an additional form as this was my first time.
The staff spoke excellent English and were very friendly. I had no difficulties talking with them at all. It was kind of cute, a lot of them had slight British accents.
After a bit, a nurse took me to the back to take my vitals. Easy. Quick. Then she had me go back to the waiting area to wait for the doctor.
The doctor finished his previous appointment, and took me back to his office. He asked me a bunch of questions, basically having me explain my entire life. He confirmed with me a couple times about what I was saying.
After he concluded what I needed help with, he asked if I was willing to take medicine. I had thought about this before going, and I was prepared to do so. The doctor then asked what types of side effects I’d be willing to deal with, what my budget limitations were, and decided on a medicine for me to try.
I was given a 10-day supply to see how it effected me, and asked to return at the end of the 10 days. The cost of the visit was approximately 20,000 yen, or close to $200, plus the cost of the medicine. I had to pay right away. Definitely see if your insurance will cover it. The Japanese National Health Insurance does not.
The doctor also wrote me a note, excusing me from the classes I missed that day.
It’s been roughly 2 months since my first visit, and I feel great. I haven’t felt down in so long. I feel like what I imagine people without mental issues feel. It’s amazing. I can actually finish projects that I started. I’m enjoying the little parts of everyday life.
I’ve been back to the clinic for checkups, and the doctor has been very attentive to me.
If I hadn’t gone to American Clinic Tokyo, I probably would have cut my study abroad short and gone home to America.
If you are dealing with, or think you might have, a mental illness, see a doctor and start treatment before coming to Japan. If you take medicine, see if you can get a large enough supply for your time abroad.
If you are already in Japan, and something hits you after you’ve been here a while, fear not. I would absolutely recommend going to American Clinic Tokyo. They’ve been super helpful for me, especially since my Japanese is not at a level where I think I could go to a regular Japanese psychiatrist.
Please, if you are struggling with something, go and seek help. If I could muster up the courage to do it, so can you. I believe in you!
Find me on Instagram: @intothewardr0be