Photos from Mental Health Institutions in Indonesia

The Big Picture, one of my very favorite photo blogs, in which the Boston Globe collects a set of stunning photos on a single topic or theme, recently had a series on Indonesia. Two of the photos especially caught my eye, as they depicted scenes from mental health institutions in the country.

In a room with vivid green walls and white tiled floor, a person is seen from the knees down is chained to a wooden pole with a metal link chain. The person is barefoot, wearing dingy jeans with a tear in the knee.

The leg of a patient is chained to a post at the Galuh foundation for people with mental health conditions on February 10, 2010 in Bekasi, Indonesia. Belief in black magic is commonplace in Indonesia, where there is much ignorance over mental health issues, with traditional healers instead consulted for apparent sufferers. 2007 figures suggested that 4.6% of the nation suffered from serious mental disorders in a country whose population now stands at around 230 million, with only around 700 psychiatrists across 48 psychiatric hospitals available to help treat those affected. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images) #

A shirtless boy, thin with protruding ribs, turns his head to the side as he is sprayed with a water hose. Behind him are walls of broken concrete.
A shirtless boy, thin with protruding ribs, turns his head to the side as he is sprayed with a water hose. Behind him are walls of broken concrete.

A patient named Yoyo is bathed at the Galuh foundation for mental patients in East Bekasi near Jakarta on February 11, 2010 in Bekasi, Indonesia. With limited mental heatlth care available in Indonesia, sufferers usually turn to black magic and are taken to “dukuns” or healers who are believed to have magical powers. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images) #

2 thoughts on “Photos from Mental Health Institutions in Indonesia

  1. These are just so terrible and sad and rage-enducing.

    One question: These didn’t trigger me at all (I’m not triggered by a lot of things, luckily), but I wondered if a trigger warning might be of use here? I’m thinking the second photo is especially brutal is all.

  2. As unpleasant as some of the psychiatric hospitals I’ve spent time in have been, I am very, very lucky to live in a country where mental illness is recognized as illness and not curse or possession. Some people believe it is possession, but no one’s chained me to a post.

    I want to cry. The US is wealthy. We could do so much if we spent some of that wealth on things that helped people where and how they needed it instead of spending so much on military and funneling much of the foreign humanitarian aid we do give into USian multinationals — often military contractors themselves.

    We could totally help people build and staff community-level health and mental health clinics. In places like Bekasi and here at home. If enough of us wanted to. If more of us cared about the quality of other people’s lives than the taxes we pay.
    .-= kaninchenzero´s last blog ..The More It Hurts the More Sense It Makes =-.

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