Psychologists in high demand at puskesmas
Astri Devi Lonia, who works at the Grogol Petamburan community health center (puskesmas) in West Jakarta, has to treat patients with various ailments, including mental illnesses supposedly requiring treatment from a specialist.
“We are overwhelmed here because we are understaffed but we do our best,” she said on Thursday.
Astri said many patients who came to her were not aware that they suffered from mental disorders, complaining about headaches and sleep disorders, among other symptoms.
“We involve patients’ families to find out the root of their psychological problems after establishing that the patients suffer from mental illness,” she said.
She added that she would refer patients with acute cases to mental hospitals.
A 2007 Health Ministry survey revealed that 14.1 percent of 10 million Jakartans suffer from such problems and the figure continues to increase.
A recent increase in criminal cases like rapes and murders committed by family members in the capital may suggest to some that many Jakarta residents suffer from mental illness.
The Jakarta Police recorded 69 murder cases in 2012 alone, slightly higher than 64 cases in the previous year.
In one recent case, a mother drowned her toddler in the bath of a washroom at a puskesmas in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta.
After two weeks of examination, the Soeharto Hoerdjan Mental Hospital in West Jakarta declared that the mother was mentally ill.
Despite a high number of patients with mental illness, the city administration has yet to provide a proper number of psychologists in all 344 puskesmas in the capital.
Psychologists at the Clinical Psychology Association (IPK) have launched an initiative to deploy psychiatry students to puskesmas, including in Grogol Petamburan, to provide counseling.
Sri Tiatri, the head of master’s degree program in psychology at Tarumanegara University in West Jakarta, said that her office was still trying to adjust its program.
“We are setting the schedule to deploy our students to the Grogol Petamburan puskesmas now,” she said.
The chairman of the Jakarta branch of IPK, Kasandra Putranto, said on Wednesday that her association began the program last year, involving the psychology departments of eight universities to send students to 13 puskesmas.
The eight universities comprise Pancasila University, Atmajaya University, Persada Indonesia University, Krida Wacana Christian University, Jakarta State University, Yarsi University, Tarumane-gara University and Pelita Harapan University.
Among the 13 puskesmas are those located in Cilandak, Mampang, Pancoran, Tebet and Setiabudi in South Jakarta; Taman Sari, Kebun Jeruk, Grogol Petamburan, Cengkareng and Kalideres in West Jakarta; and Matraman and Cempaka Putih in Central Jakarta.
Kasandra said that in the second year, the association would try to not only facilitate psychological counseling in puskesmas but also conduct other programs like psychological education for puskesmas healthcare practitioners to enable them to treat victims of violence better.
“We also need to educate, especially housewives, to make them more aware of mental health [and its possible preventive measures],” she said. (hrl/cor)