Uniting with West Java to improve mental health care

Four trailblazing mental health advocates from West Java have visited Flinders University as part of an Australia Award Fellowship aimed at building a shared mental health research agenda.

This Fellowship was part of a collaboration between Flinders mental health academics and the West Java Psychiatric Hospital.

The vising Indonesian Fellows were mental health nurse and research coordinator Mr Muhamad (Taufik) Hidayat, Ms Lelly Resna Nugrahawati (a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist representing Akeswari, a key NGO focused on mental health in West Java), social worker Ms Isti Chalifati Lazuaria, who helped create Bipolar Care Indonesia, and Mr Gema Gumelar, psychologist and leader for KPSI Indonesian Community Care for Schizophrenia.

Their ambition is to advance Indonesia’s treatment of people with mental health disability, especially in the country’s most populous province of West Java, which has Indonesia’s highest prevalence of mental health problems – up to 20 per cent of the population – including very high rates of Pasung (use of restraint at home).

West Java has virtually no formal community mental health services and few primary health services that provide care to people with mental ill-health.

The Fellowship’s two-week visit included mentoring by leading Australian mental health consumer advocates, a visit to the SA Mental Health Commissioner and Community Visitors Scheme, and site visits to numerous South Australian mental health non-government organisations, including the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia, Skylight and MIND.

The Indonesian advocates have now returned home with aims to establish more effective psychosocial supports for people with mental health issues in West Java and reduce Pasung in their communities.

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