In a society where the mere mention of mental illness is shunned, FAM Health Indonesia bridges the access between people and practitioners to foster a change in the way we talk about mental health, and make peace with the suffering that hides behind shame and ignorance.
There are different types of mental healthcare but which one is the right one? In many cases, the problem doesn’t lie in the help. It’s one step prior — acknowledging the problem and being proactive. It rings especially true in a culture where mental health is embedded socially as a big taboo, which is the case in Bali.
FAM Health founder, Ikha, brought the sensitive subject to light upon returning home from France, when she hit what she recalled to be the lowest point of her life. “Getting help in France was a breeze. It was a completely different story here.”
Reluctant at first, Ikha remembered the fear that initially followed the start of her healing journey on the island. She drew the contrast from western culture where mental health and physical health are equally important to uphold.
“I had to meet so many ‘professionals’ to find the right fit. But I had to go on that journey to understand what people really need, and essentially, the stigma surrounding it,” says Ikha.
During this time, she met co-founder Peterson in 2019, who was also struggling with mental illness, and started FAM Health together to extend a helping hand to others who are struggling, stigmatised and seemingly isolated.
FAM Health, which stands for First Aid on Mental Health, makes help widely accessible. They use rudimentary language, normalising the narrative of mental health, and most crucially, to be able to reach anyone and everyone. It eases the way we talk about our problems, employing familiarity rather than science terminologies. The services are also free of charge.
Additionally, they have nurtured a system where people can easily engage in the community. Their primary approaches at the moment are webinars and support groups, focusing on youth and adolescents from age 15 to 30 year old adults. Based on their own research and observation, people in this age group are more prone to depression and anxiety.
“What’s keeping people from seeking help? Culture is the biggest factor. Financial barriers come a close second,” Ikha claims.
The toxic ‘boys don’t cry’ narrative is one example that has caused young people to repress turbulent feelings. And in Bali, there is a set of expectations or qualities that a woman should strive for and this cultural tendency can be damaging in this day and age. Quiet, reserved, and unnoticed, a ‘well-behaved’ woman will keep to herself to avoid stirring the pot.
FAM Health believes in ‘psycho-education’ to slowly but surely remove the stigma, building an understanding of ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. Humanising mental health starts with the language because we aren’t lab rats nor robots to psychologists but humans with valid emotions.
They also apply ‘training’ for first aid on mental health to be applied in day to day situations, such as parents dealing with an anxious child in the household. By introducing these conversations in everyday conditions, they hope people will be more open to understanding it.
At FAM Health, the help is a two-way street. The community is actively supportive of one another’s healing journey. It puts to bed the old daunting ways of seeking help, as everyone is in this together.
How to get help
Anyone can book a free consultation with a certified counsellor depending on your needs. If you have relationship problems, they’ll connect you with a practitioner in that field. If you are in need of urgent attention, they will refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist from Denpasar Mental Health Centre. They offer online and offline counselling services, with strict safety protocols in place.
FAM Health Indonesia
+62 821 229 31169 (Ikha)