Desty’s Story: Challenging Stigma Around Mental Illness in the Midst of COVID-19

Friday, 15 Jan 2021

Challenging stigma around mental illness in the midst of Covid-19

One of the most challenging barriers to building inclusive communities can be tackling stigma attached to mental illness. In the advent of Covid-19, people experiencing existing mental health concerns have faced further stigma when trying to access health services, receive medication, or support networks. Lockdowns have made accessing this support much harder, and poverty and isolation have exacerbated mental illness.

CBM and partner organisations have been working hard to support people experiencing mental illness to challenge the existing attitudes to mental illness. CBM’s community mental health project in Yogyakarta Indonesia has, for example, has been encouraging local young people to become advocates for improving the community perception of mental illness. This has continued, even during Covid-19, when events have gone virtual.

Desty is a young women in her twenties with a psychosocial disability involved in the CBM-supported project. This year, she has presented at a number of online public forms including the #Move for Mental Health campaign, and the Knowledge Sector Initiative Exchange presentation on the role of Organisations for People with Disabilities in post Covid-19 development. As well as being active in her own local community, new ways of working due to Covid-19 meant she was part of the virtual official celebrations for the International Day for Persons with Disabilities in Yogyakarta. The year has seen some amazing personal achievements for Desty, however the impact is far greater, with other colleagues connected through the project wanting to follow her lead and speak up for and support others with mental illness.

Through the ongoing support of these initiatives, CBM can continue to support the recovery of people with mental illness who are especially vulnerable in the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to work towards ensuring no one is left behind.

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).