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Jakarta Post

Seminary in Maumere builds 25 shelters to treat mentally ill humanely

  • Hengky Ola Sura

    The Jakarta Post

Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara   /   Fri, August 16, 2019   /   12:39 pm
Seminary in Maumere builds 25 shelters to treat mentally ill humanely Against shackling -- Mutiara Sukma Mental Health Hospital director Elly Rosila Wijaya (center) has said shackling remains a threat to people with severe mental health problems in West Nusa Tenggara. (JP/Panca Nugraha)

Members of the St. Camilus Seminary in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, have built 25 facilities to house and treat people with psychosocial disabilities in a humane way, amid efforts in the country to end the common practice of keeping the mentally ill in shackles.

The seminary's dean, Father Cyrelus Suparman Andi, said they had been moved to build such facilities as a social service after seeing the large number of people suffering from mental disorders in the province’s Sikka regency.

Each of the shelters measures 12 square meters and is equipped with a bed and a toilet. The shelters were designed to make the people living in them feel comfortable, and no longer feel alone or pressured.

They are set up across several districts of Sikka regency, including Nita, Nele, Kewapante, Waigete, Lela, Bola and Alok, he said. 

“The shelters were built by taking all aspects into considerations, so that people with mental disorders who live there do not feel alienated,” Cyrelus said.

“Shackling them is not a good measure. That will make them even more depressed,” he added.

The inhumane practice of shackling still affects many people with serious mental illnesses in Indonesia, although reports say the practice has been declining over the past few years. 

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported last year that the number of people with mental disorders who were shackled or locked up in confined spaces had dropped to 12,800 in July 2018 from nearly 18,800 in 2016, according to Indonesian Health Ministry data. 

To keep an eye on the people living in the facilities, Cyrelus said they would stay in touch with the residents’ families and community health centers (Puskesmas) for free medical treatment.

“The family is responsible for the patient’s development. Patients will recover soon if they are in good care, eat well and maintain their cleanliness,” he said, noting that the seminary would also add spiritual aspects to the patients’ recovery process.

Sikka Social Agency head Delly Pasande said the office currently took care of 587 people with mental disorders, 332 male and 255 female.

As many as 231 people have received medical treatment. There were 38 cases in which patients were shackled, 11 of whom have been freed. (vla)