So often we hear about the physical ailments and health issues of our friends, colleagues and acquaintances. We commiserate with those who battle diabetes or high blood pressure, we express shock and empathy at those diagnosed with cancer. We even find ourselves offering - often unsolicited - advise on how one could overcome their afflictions.
But when someone mentions anything connected to mental health, their bout of depression or a general sense of mental illhealth, one clams up and, shifting uncomfortably, brushes it off with remarks of mere ‘first world problems’ or “sleep on it” or “exercise might help”.
But mental illness is a far greater issue. According to published sources, diseases or conditions that affect how you think, feel, act, or relate to other people or to your surroundings. They are very common. Many people have had one or know someone who has.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. It isn’t always “visible” but it can be diagnosed by a medical professional who can offer ways to help.
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of most mental illnesses. A combination of things, including genes and life experience seem to be involved.
Many mental illnesses run in families but it’s always cause for concern for subsequent generations.
Sometimes brain injuries are also linked to some mental conditions.Some mental illnesses may be triggered or worsened by psychological trauma that happens during childhood such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or perhaps even a major loss (such as of a parent) or neglect.
Some signs include mood swings, or a general lack of interest in social situations or reclusiveness to an extreme level. More serious cases end up with hallucinations, alcohol or substance abuse, very low self esteem, sleep problems and so much more.
Developed countries often have parameters in place for those who might be looking for care. While mental disorders are distributed relatively evenly across the globe, funding for mental health treatment is not. And Indonesia faces the same challenges as other under-resourced nations when it comes to providing mental health care. According to data from the World Health Organization, high income nations on average spend 5 percent of total health spending on mental health; for lower middle-income countries the figure is less than 2 percent and for Indonesia the figure is believed to be less than 1 per cent.
One problem is that developing nations have few trained psychiatrists, and the psychiatrists that are trained tend to cluster in major urban centres.
Experts also say developing countries don’t see mental health care as a priority, and so don’t fund it sufficiently. Indonesia, like many other low-middle income and low income countries, which may have made gains in addressing physical illness like malaria, have not paid much attention to mental health.
In Indonesia, however, there are signs of progress. Indonesia passed a landmark mental health bill in 2014 that will provide a blueprint for developing the country’s mental health infrastructure. The country is now on its way to establishing the first national centre for mental health research.
Recent reports in English media here have addressed the lack of awareness or the lack of proper faciltities that exist but with the new law, it is hoped that there will be more awareness raised and those seeking treatment will actually receive it – before it’s too late.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine July 2018 issue “Health in a Era of Urbanisation”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.