Osaka YMCA
International School

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Thomas Bell

Thomas Bell

Mr. Tom has been working in the mental health field for fifteen years both in schools and in the community. He is a father of two and is happily married to his also counselor wife, Ms. Amy Pothong. He enjoys reading and drinking coffee when his children let him.

Look around at the people in your life and ask yourself, do they have someone they can talk to about serious issues? Let's prevent suicide by making connections with each other.

Finding Connection: Suicide Prevention

Did you know that over 20,000 Japanese people die every year due to suicide? For the first time in eleven years this number has gone up. But unlike in previous years, men didn’t account for the main increases. Instead, the instances of women and child suicides continue to climb. At 400 in 2020, this was the highest number ever recorded in Japan. COVID-19 and the fallout around it have presented the world with unprecedented problems. It’s no mystery that mental health has been one of the top casualties.

So what does this mean for Osaka YMCA International School and our community? And, more importantly, how do we prevent our students from becoming one of these statistics?

In my experience as a school counselor, one of the first red flags I look for when working with a student is whether or not they have someone in their life that they can talk to about important issues. One person. Anyone. A friend, a family member, a teacher, a counselor. They need someone.

The reason this is so important, without getting too much into the backstory of it, is that we humans evolved as a social species. We need to feel like we belong to a group. When we don’t feel like we belong or when we feel like we’ve been rejected or abandoned, we get strong feelings of anxiety and depression. This same double-headed monster loves to come at us simultaneously and has become an epidemic worldwide. For all people, loneliness is linked to adverse health consequences such as depression, sleep disturbances, cognitive decline, and impaired immunity. As mentioned, social isolation is a major risk factor for suicide. The feeling of not belonging or not feeling connected to other people can be detrimentally powerful. Isolation and disconnection are causing an epidemic of depression and the answer is to help people feel connected. They need one person to talk to openly. They need one person to talk to and not feel judged.

So, my task for our community is this: look around at the people in your life and ask yourself, do they have someone they can talk to about serious issues? If the answer is no, or even if you don’t know what the answer is, try talking to them about it. Try to listen and be non-judgmental. Oftentimes it’s the fear of judgment from loved ones that prevents these people from opening up.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have someone to talk to or for the loved ones in our lives to be kind enough to give us this opportunity. If you or someone you know is isolated and disconnected call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774- 0992 for some direct and free support. Or visit their website here. Have them reach out to a school counselor. It might just save a life.

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School Blog

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WASC Praises Osaka School

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) recently completed an evaluation of Osaka YMCA International School (OYIS). It found that measures were in place to support inclusive education and ensure that each child meets his or her potential. OYIS has been praised for being ‘caring’ and committed to achieving high standards.

OYIS is an IB continuum school, which means it offers an IB curriculum throughout the whole school, from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) through to the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Diploma in Grades 11 and 12.nWASC recognised that growth in PYP was above average while the MYP Maths’ scores were particularly impressive.

Despite the challenges all schools have faced during the pandemic, WASC found that the school had been seen as being ‘caring’ and ‘flexible’ during these times.

OYIS, which has campuses in Nakatsu and Tosabori, aims to be inclusive and support each child’s needs. WASC also recognized this, saying it was a significant area of growth. With the school’s first-ever IB Diploma students preparing to graduate this year, WASC felt the college guidance program was developing well.

PYP Principal Dwayne Primeau said: “We work very hard to ensure that we build a school culture that is inclusive, caring and welcoming. The school has expanded rapidly over the past few years due to the support of the Osaka YMCA, Osaka city, our amazing staff, students and parents. It is reassuring to hear that WASC feels we are continuing to move in the right direction to provide a truly international education to our students.”

MYP/DP Principal Mark Beales added: “It was pleasing to hear that WASC recognized the significant amount of work teachers have put in over the past few years. As well as meeting the challenges of covid, the school has expanded to include the MYP and IB Diploma. We are delighted that WASC praised our caring and empathetic approach to helping students; we will continue to promote these qualities.”

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Osaka Students can sit SATs

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