A Better Way to Address Mental Health

Stories | August 26, 2021

Medical support is not enough

After 10 years of working with government on mental health programs in Aceh, it became clear that linking people with mental illness to medical services was helpful, but not enough. People often relapsed after coming off medication, and the cycle of referrals for health support was repeated. CBM realised they needed to put more focus on post-recovery support.

A community-centred approach

In recent work in Aceh and Yogyakarta, CBM and partners have worked with local governments to tackle mental illness more holistically. CBM emphasises that mental illness is more than a health issue. CBM’s Community Mental Health Approach in Indonesia emphasises stigma reduction, linking people to the needed services, and supporting people post-recovery. It’s way more than getting people onto medication.

The approach focuses on village-level cadres, paid by local government and trained by CBM, who are the link between people with mental illness and community support services. Helping people get training and jobs also helps their recovery, gives them confidence, new skills, and income. In Aceh, around 200 people have been linked to jobs or home-based businesses. Support Groups have been set up and these sometimes develop into income generating and advocacy groups. Families are engaged and involved in support.

Bringing government and community together

CBM’s model is unusual for Indonesia in that it emphasises the value of government and NGO support equally. It is a tested approach and evaluated to be very successful at a village and district level. There’s interest from the Ministry of Health in our way of working. CBM’s next step is to push for further government buy-in, demonstrating the value of Ministry of Health collaboration with other ministries on mental health, and in linking with national mental health advocacy groups.

(Photo caption: CBM’s program connects people with mental health issues with employers and helps people develop home-based small businesses. It also works to reduce stigma and gear of people with mental illness.)


CBM Australia has funded community mental health programs with support by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).  

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