Board Director, CFO
J&J Woman’s Leadership & Inclusion Initiative
Associate Director, R&D
Specially Appointed Researcher
Ryoji Noritake from HGPI took the stage to briefly introduce himself, the next session, and the next Words Of Wisdom speaker, the CFO from Janssen Japan, Yuri Kato. Before giving the stage to Yuri, Ryoji took a moment to acknowledge the amazing planning and execution by the many OYWJ Ambassadors behind the scenes of the Tokyo Caucus. He expressed his sincere thanks and respect to all of those involved.
Yuri exuded an air of confidence and concern as she opened her Words Of Wisdom talk on the importance of inclusion and how we must all take an active role in creating a safe environment for those that suffer from mental health challenges. She posed an example in which a worker calls in sick to work because of the flu. No one would consider this odd or irregular because it happens all the time. But, she flipped that coin to offer an alternative situation in which a worker calls in sick because of a panic attack. How many bosses would consider this situation a regular or normal circumstance? Not many. And this is the situation that many people who suffer from mental health issues suffer on a regular basis.
According to Yuri, even before the pandemic hit, mental health cases worldwide were on the rise. But now, with the many economic and social problems that COVID is creating, the numbers continue to escalate. For those who suffer from even more serious conditions like schizophrenia, the stigma creates a whole new problem of social ostracism.
Yuri closed her enlightening and emotional session with some other examples of how Janssen is addressing this challenge and with a proposal that we all do our part to include those who might be hurting and suffering and not ostracize them. OYWJ wants to thank Janssen Japan and Yuri for her heartfelt message that we can achieve so much more together than we can alone.
The panel discussion began with a quick summary of how COVID-19 has changed the way the healthcare industry operates and some thoughts on how to best define “healthy” in the age of COVID. Ryoji asked each of the panelists to share their thoughts on the importance of mental health, especially now.
Maaya started off from the research point-of-view noting that the world was busy enough working on lifestyle diseases and now has to contend with infectious diseases as well. The burden is overwhelming for everyone and adding additional financial, emotional, and mental stress on the global population. She emphasized that we all have to be part of the solution now.
Kota, who runs a tech startup named Ubie that uses A.I. to help send the right patients to the right places at the right times, touched on how Ubie had to redesign its app and services to accommodate Japan’s healthcare system. Kota continued to say that while the app and service design was quickly being adapted to the COVID pandemic, they also noted a spike in users of the app to help diagnose for COVID and other mental health related issues.
Ryoji took the opportunity to stress that crises can also be opportunities and elaborated that the Japanese public visits hospitals 2.6x more than the OECD average. Usage of apps like Ubie’s might be great facilitators of reduced visits, reduced costs, and reduced anxiety.
Sayuri concluded by sharing some of her experience at Janssen working with schizophrenia and the challenge of eliminating the stigma associated with mental illnesses. In addition to regular drug development at Janssen, she highlighted a few examples of how she and the company are trying to create more awareness of mental illness and the daily challenges that come with it. For instance, they have created a “virtual hallucination” for those who wish to step into the shoes of those who suffer from schizophrenia. They also have created an opportunity for patients recovering from schizophrenia to collaborate with the Tokyo Verdy professional soccer team through sports activities and part-time jobs.