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The Dark Side Of Paradise: Mental Illness in Bali

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Uploaded on Oct 25, 2008

(This film has been entered into the 2011 APS Film Festival from the Association for Psychological Science at www.psychologicalscience.org)

Professor Lu Ketut Suryani is a Balinese psychiatrist and the director and founder of the Suryani Institute for Mental Health (http://www.suryani-institute.com ) in Denpasar. In addition, she is the president of the Committee Against Sexual Abuse
(CASA), the chairperson of the Indonesian Cultural Psychiatric
Association, and the former Head of the Department of Psychiatry (1997-2005) of the Udayana University and the Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar.
Professor Suryani has been very active in her community, trying to help with mental health issues around paedophilia (she has been an expert witness in a number of court cases), suicide prevalence and prevention, and severe mental illnesses, like psychosis.
In her latest project, she and her team ran a 10-month survey (2007-2008), in an attempt to uncover the prevalence of mental illness in Bali. According to the official governmental position, mental illness is almost non-existent in Bali. However, after interviewing almost half a million Balinese, she uncovered a far more sinister reality.
She estimates that over 7000 people in Bali suffer from serious chronic mental illnesses, but are not reported (and naturally not treated). For various reasons, financial, social, political, educational, or simply shame, their families have been reluctant to seek help, while the few who did never received any. Therefore, as a last resort, these families may either abandon their mentally ill relatives in the jungle (hoping they will die or just forever disappear) or keep them under restraints, chained or inside makeshift cages. The survey-team encountered numerous cases where people were being locked up or in chains for several years (in some cases over a decade), in conditions that would have been considered inhumane even for livestock in the West!
The irony in all of this is that almost every one of these cases is treatable. Professor Suryani has used her limited personal resources and has already successfully treated (obviously free of charge) 258 of these people, all of whom have recovered and are now living normal lives. However, the Indonesian government still refuses to acknowledge the existence of a problem.
In an attempt to communicate the seriousness of the situation and plea for help, the survey-team recorded and photographed a large number of these cases, and made this short, 4-minute documentary, which was presented to over 1000 elders, Indonesian government officials, and local MPs on 11 May 2008. However, they still believe the message is falling on "deaf ears".
My name is Dr Niko Tiliopoulos, PhD, and I am a personologist at the University of Sydney in Australia ( http://www.psych.usyd.edu.au/staff/ni... ). Under this capacity, I have been involved in numerous research and teaching activities in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. When I became aware of the above case, heard the story, saw the evidence, and witnessed the frustration of these scientists, I was deeply moved and felt obliged to try to help them expose to the rest of the world this injustice and unspeakable negligence of human rights.
Therefore I submit to you, as part of my attempt, that brief documentary, in the hope that someone among you is a journalist or works for an NGO, and will be willing to take the matter further.

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