In connection with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, Danish Ambassador to Malaysia, Lars Bo Larsen has published an OpEd in the Jakarta Post were a call for an end to the mental health stigma highlighting that even Denmark faces significant mental health issues.
In the article, the Ambassador writes, “In the World Happiness Report by the United Nations, Denmark has typically ranked at the top. In the latest report, Denmark ranked second. However, in Denmark 8 percent of the population has depression and it is estimated that 25 percent of all contact with a general practitioner is related to mental health.”
“When encountering the warm hospitality and positive drive of Indonesia, Indonesians easily appear happier than Danes. Still, despite the abundance of smiles and a lower official depression rate, mental health is a growing issue and access to consultation and treatment is limited especially outside urban areas. This means we need to work together to support mental health well-being, care, and treatment,” the Ambassador states.
While the Ambassador praises the renewed focus on health in Indonesia he stresses that mental health should also be prioritized especially given that the true mental health toll of the pandemic is yet to be seen.
“It is impressive how Indonesia has managed to put health on top of the agenda after Covid-19 and has realized that investment and innovation are needed to ensure proper healthcare across the archipelago. It is time to bring the same attention to mental health issues.”
“With school closures, economic struggle, work from home measures, and isolation from friends, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant rise in mental health problems all over the world. Indonesia has been one of the countries that have kept children and adolescents at home for the longest period despite warnings from experts regarding learning difficulties and mental health. I have no doubt Indonesia will be able to cope with this challenge, but also that we have not yet seen the full cost of the mental side effects of COVID-19,” the Ambassador writes.
Read Ambassador Lars Bo Larsen’s full article in the Jakarta Post here