Deepening ties with Indonesia in mental health

March 29, 2013

The 21st century is the century of the cities and of urbanisation. For the first time in history, more people globally live in cities than in rural areas. While in developed countries urbanisation has mainly taken place in the second half of the 19th century, developing countries, such as Indonesia are trying to cope with an unprecedented influx of millions of people into cities over the last 20 years.

While cities provide opportunity, rapid urbanisation presents enormous ecological, economic and social problems and risks, including homelessness.   The link between homelessness and mental illness is well established and the Indonesian Government Ministry of Social Affairs is committed to improving services for homeless people who experience poor mental health.

In March 2013, AAMH and its partner Mind Australia – a leading community-managed psychosocial rehabilitation service, visited Jakarta for the official signing of a Letter of Intent with the Ministry of Social Affairs. The Letter of Intent aims to support the Ministry’s “Community-based Social Rehabilitation Program Development Plan for People with Mental Disability”.

The huge challenge for service development was highlighted in a visit to a large shelter for homeless people who suffer from mental ill-health.  Almost 600 people (358 men and 233 women) live in basic accommodation, receiving meals and medical treatment.  The shelter aims to reunite residents with their families and has a success rate of about 20%, however many people remain for years, or are transferred to generic shelters which have even less ability to provide targeted rehabilitation programs.   The dedicated Director of the Shelter and her staff enthusiastically welcome the new possibilities arising from the partnership with Australia and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

This project, titled Sembuh: An Indonesia-Australia collaboration in community mental health is supported by the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.