VP candidate Sandiaga Uno promises national mental health center if elected

Photo: @sandiuno / Instagram
Photo: @sandiuno / Instagram

Much concern has been voiced about the state of Indonesian mental healthcare, with groups such as Human Rights Watch documenting the still widespread practice of shackling and other disturbing form of abuse towards the mentally ill, due in large part to an extreme shortage of mental health professionals in the country (about one for every 300,000 people).

Despite the human rights crisis this creates, mental health rarely rises to the topic of national discussion, in part due to cultural taboos about mental illness. But vice presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno, running mate to Prabowo Subianto, has promised to make mental healthcare a much greater priority for his potential administration than the current one.

“There is already a mental health law that mandates the existence of a national mental health center or national institute for mental health. This has not happened until now,” Sandiaga said yesterday as quoted by Detik.

The former Jakarta vice governor said that mental health was an issue that urgently needed to be addresses, noting that many of the capital’s residents suffer from various forms of mental illness.

“In Jakarta alone, 20% of people experience psychiatric disorders ranging from mild to severe. This can be seen from existing social phenomena such as suicide, drugs, etc., it is triggered by the mental health of our community,” Sandiaga said, adding that he would bring it up during his upcoming vice presidential candidate debate with President Joko Widodo’s running mate Ma’ruf Amin on March 17.

Sandiaga previously cited that statistic while vice governor of Jakarta, saying that was based on data from the Jakarta Health Office. But 20% is also consistent with the average percentage of people with mental illnesses around the world in countries like the US and Australia.

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