Removing the Social Stigma of Mental Illness

Many people with mental disorders are still suffering from social stigma. The public often neglect the issue of mental illness without even realizing its prevalence. In 2018, the Indonesian Ministry of Health stated that the cases of depression had occurred among the adolescents aged 15 to 24 years old.

rehabilitation center
Illustration. A patient at a Galuh Foundation mental disorder rehabilitation center in Rawa Lumbu, Bekasi City walks past.

ACTNews, JAKARTA – The issue of mental health still carries a social stigma for most Indonesians. Many still don’t realize its danger and prevalence. In fact, research conducted by the Indonesian Ministry of Health in 2018 stated that depressive disorders have occurred among adolescents aged 15 to 24 years old with a prevalence of 6.2 percent. The prevalence increases among older people, with people aged 75 years and over at 8.9 percent, 65 to 74 years at 8.0 percent, and 55-64 years at 6.5 percent.

The Indonesian Ministry of Health’s Data and Information Center stated in 2017 that the mental illnesses that are prevalent among Indonesians include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, behavioral disorders, autism, eating disorders, intellectual disabilities, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Dr. Riati Sri Hartini, Sp.KJ, M.Sc, explained that mental disorders have a broad and varied spectrum, ranging from mild, moderate, to severe. Physical and mental disorders are two sides that are linked. The body can influence the mind and vice versa.

 “When we talk about mental disorders, their roots are often complex. We must see humans as a whole. There are people who are not accustomed to channeling their emotions. Eventually, they build up and manifest into a mental disorder. We must learn to channel our emotions so they don’t accumulate,” she said when contacted by ACTNews on Wednesday (8/25/2021).

When dealing with people with mental disorders, Dr. Riati emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach that involves biological, psychological, social, and spiritual perspectives. “For example, from the social point of view, they need support from people around them. Humans as social creatures need social interactions at least with the closest people in the family so that we don't feel alone," she continued.

Dr. Riati emphasized the importance of removing the social stigma of mental illness. If a person has symptoms of anxiety, hallucinations, or sleeping disorders, and feels uncomfortable with that, he or she must not self-diagnose.

“The stigma is still very strong when people go to psychiatrists. In fact, early detection can lead to better treatment," she said. She also suggested people who need professional help see experts in order to find the root and treatment.[]