Workshop on Psychologists and the Indonesian Mental Health System: 13st - 17th  May, 2013, Melbourne, Australia


Group photo of participants at the Workshop on Psychologists and the Indonesian Mental Health System

Poor mental health is a significant issue in Indonesia. The need to develop ancient, effective and accessible mental health system for the population has only recently become widely acknowledged, primarily as a result of the Aceh tsunami in 2004. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Primary Health Care services as a key strategy to close the treatment gap in mental health. Integration of existing psychologists into Primary Health Care is an important element in addressing mental health specialist shortages. The emerging field of mental health in Indonesia requires a sustained effort to develop a curriculum for psychologists working in Primary Health Care. 

The one-week workshop Psychologists and the Indonesian Mental Health System’ focused attention on psychologists working in Primary Health Care centres in Indonesia. It provided an excellent opportunity for the delegates to work together and contribute to the development of a curriculum for psychologists working in Primary Health Care in Indonesia.


The expected outputs of the workshop were to:A participant of the UGM Receiving a certificate

·       Develop a global perspective on mental health

·       Develop skills to strengthen the mental health system in Indonesia

·       Develop skills to work in Primary Health Care settings

·       Contribute to the development of a core curriculum for

psychologists working in primary care in Indonesia


The workshop consisted of 11 lectures delivered by:

A/Prof Harry Minas

A/Prof Grant Blashki

Dr Erminia Colucci

Dr Ruth Wraith

Dr Ritz Kakuma

Diana Setiyawati


The workshop theme was derived from the recommendations of Diana Setiyawati’s current PhD research in GCMH. It covered various topics ranging from the very broad, macro-level issues such as public mental health, generating political commitment and program evaluation, to very specific topics such as suicide prevention, mental health first aid, children’s mental health, and diagnostic skills in assessing high prevalence disorders.

The workshop consisted of a delegation from the University of Gadjah Mada; 19 students and 5 senior Faculty staff. Dr. Rahmat Hidayat (Vice Dean of The Faculty of Psychology and former Director of Centre for Public Mental Health) noted:


The Mental Health Short Course in GCMH was immensely valuable to us in many respects. Not only were the students gaining new experiences and developing new perspectives for themselves but we were also exposed to a real model of practice of a clinical psychologist in Australia, from which we can derive a new model of curriculum for us. The on-site demonstration of collaborative practice between general practice and clinical psychology has brought us awareness that we need a new focus on our advocacies. It is simply amazing that such a short program can be of such value. Thank you GCMH.’


Participants receiving their certificate from the UGM 

Other Faculty visitors joining the workshop included Prof. Dr. Sofia Retnowati (Pioneer of Integration of Psychologists in Primary Health Care in Sleman), Esti Wahyu, Rita Eka Izzaty (senior lecturers). The students are studying for a Masters in Clinical Psychology and will graduate in the next 5 months. They found the workshop an exciting and invaluable experience that was not only inspiring, but also helped them to find a new meaning as a clinical psychologist in Indonesia.


A selection of their comments are noted below:

“It was an amazing eye-opening experience!. The course was a means for me to become a clinician able to communicate effectively to clients, other professionals and communities” (Wahyu nhira utami)

“It was a long journey for me to decide to be a psychologist. I started to figure it out on the course” (Novita)

“It was a great opportunity to attend the course. It inspired me and gave me purpose as a psychologist that I haven't had before” (Mistety)

“What an amazing experience!  It gave me spirit and huge inspiration to take action in mental health.  Thank you so much....” (NGK. Diana Setiawati)

“It was my first amazing "go-abroad" experience with real purpose...This short course re-awaked my passion and re-opened my heart to be a "mature & humble" clinical psychologist”. (Jeanita).

“For me, study in Melbourne is a dream, so to have the opportunity and to achieve this in Australia is a miracle for me, every second and every step in Melborne is precious. The dream came true. Thank you for teaching us with such inspiration.” (Laelatus Syifa)

“I was very grateful to learn about mental health in Melbourne. I hope this experience makes me better. Thank you” (Wahyu Dewanto)

“It was a wonderful experience. All the Lecturers opened my mind about the real actions in public mental health. There are so many new lessons that I can share with people in Indonesia, such as the system of public mental health and how to promote mental health etc” (Devi)