With the push to “internationalize” university departments, Japanese students are encouraged (and in some cases required) to participate in study abroad programs. However, there is a growing concern that students may not be prepared to handle a rigorous semester or year abroad. Although many universities have created pre-study abroad courses that help students prepare for their time in a foreign culture, a fundamental flaw in these classes is the lack of mental health education and support. This presentation will provide an overview of one such course, followed by the findings of a 4-year research project measuring the efficacy of a pre-study abroad program that supports students' mental health. This program contains aspects of both Western and Eastern psychological counseling modalities, as well as intercultural communication exercises, that can be incorporated into university courses created for study abroad students, or those interested in intercultural communication, psychology, self-awareness and other related areas.
Daniel Velasco, Rikkyo University, Japan