Anorak | Indonesia’s mental health shackles used to promote World Mental Health Day

Indonesia’s mental health shackles used to promote World Mental Health Day

by | 14th, October 2012

HOW do they care for the mentally ill in Indonesia? The AP reports: “An Indonesian man identified as Goro who is mentally ill is confined to a wooden stock at his family residence in Trenggalek, East Java, Indonesia. Thousands of Indonesians with mental health issues are spending their lives in shackles or chain due to the lack of psychiatric services for the poor.” Really? The Ministry of Data says more than 15,000 Indonesians with a mental illness who are either chained, caged or placed in primitive stocks.

The AFP says:

There are 48 mental hospitals in the country of 240 million people, and only 700 registered psychiatrists.

Oddly, the same story appeared almost exactly one year ago. Then the BBC noted:

Shackling trauma of Indonesia’s mental health patients… According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, there are thought to be about 20,000 cases of shackling in the country.


Around the country there are only 8,000 hospital beds for patients with mental health issues. About one million people are thought to have mental health problems in Indonesia, according to the 2007 National Basic Survey on Health.

Now the NPR reports:

In a country of 240 million people, there are less than 600 psychiatrists, many of them based in urban centers. Dr. Irmansyah, the director of mental health at Indonesia’s Health Ministry, estimates that around 30,000 people are living in restraints…

The facts seem uncertain. It sounds grim. But are there 15,000 or 30,000 people in shackles. Or are there 7,000 or fewer? The news media is guessing or being fed information to fit in with an agenda?

Not entirely incidentally, this week is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 20th World Mental Health day. Life for the mentally ill in Indonesia seems extreme. For some, it is. But why did these people agree to pose for photos?

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Posted: 14th, October 2012 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink