The future of Indonesian mental health

Scientists are bringing together the knowledge from 300 mental health experts in a multi-disciplinary project to reimagine the future of mental healthcare in Indonesia.

Conducting interviews about policy, key challenges, case studies and patient groups, they’re looking to understand how new practices can fit into the historical, sociological and anthropological aspects of psychiatry in Indonesia.

A growing amount of attention from overseas in recent years has focused on the poor treatment of Indonesian patients with psychosocial disabilities—which has sometimes included shackling of those suffering from schizophrenia. But some local programs are making progress in supporting those with mental health issues through innovative thinking—despite their limited resources.

One example is a walk-in house in Lombok for patients with schizophrenia, where patients whose condition has been stabilised with medication can meet during the day and work, for example preparing salted duck eggs for sale. It’s part of a comprehensive mental health program developed by psychiatrist Elly Wijaya. The program includes after-care and follow-up visits to patients and their families by mental health nurses—approaches which have proven essential to prevent relapse.

Thirty of the psychiatrists met for a workshop in Yogyakarta in November 2016. The researchers, from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Harvard University and The University of Sydney, will incorporate their findings into a text on the future of Indonesian mental health.

The work is funded by the Australian Research Council.

Credit for banner image: Mohamad Pattaroi.