Mental illness should be properly treated, otherwise it could cause permanent physical health issues, a psychiatrist has said.
As people’s quality of life worsened, by 2020 depression could become the second leading cause of illness after ischemic heart disease.
Muhammad Reza Syah, a psychiatrist from the Urban Mental Health Center at the Soeharto Heerdjan Mental Health Hospital, said on Friday that it was urgent for people to prevent mental health problems as they could lead to illnesses that might cause physical problems.
“Physical and mental well-being are closely related, so we can’t prevent illnesses unless we work on our mental health,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to the Soeharto Heerdjan Mental Health Hospital in Grogol, West Jakarta.
The visit on Friday was also attended by several journalists.
Citing an example, Reza said chronic depression might increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
In 2000, depression ranked the fourth most common cause of disability after low respiratory infections, perinatal conditions and HIV/AIDS.
“It appears that mental health problems are getting serious as more Indonesian people live modern lives,” said Reza.
During the last few years, depression has had a lot of attention due to an increased number of people with mental health problems.
The World Federation of Mental Health has picked “Depression: A Global Crisis” as the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, which will fall on Oct. 9.
Data from Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) in 2007 showed that the number of Indonesians aged 15 and older who suffered from emotional mental disorders (both anxiety and depression) reached nearly 19 million, or 11.6 percent of the total population.
Meanwhile, the number of people with severe mental disorders had reached on average 1 million or 0.46 percent of the total population.
According to 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) data, at least 50,000 Indonesians committed suicide every year.
The Health Ministry’s director for mental health management, Diah Setia Utami, said there was no more recent data on how many people had committed suicide in Indonesia.
“We can only estimate that around 150 people commit suicide in Indonesia every day,” she said, referring to the WHO data.
“If it’s true, then we have to provide people with access to both medical treatment and psychosocial support to protect them from suicidal feelings,” Diah said.