Mental health literacy amongst children with common mental health problems and their parents in Java, Indonesia: A qualitative study

Helen Brooks, Benny Prawira, Kirsten Windfuhr, Irmansyah Irmansyah, Karina Lovell, Armaji Kamaludi Syarif, Suzy Yusna Dewi, Swastika Wulan Pahlevi, Atik Puji Rahayu, Syachroni Syachroni, Annisa Rizky Afrilia, Laoise Renwick, Rebecca Pedley, Soraya Salim, Penny Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Optimising mental health literacy at the individual and population levels can be an effective mental health improvement and prevention tool. However, concepts of mental health literacy (MHL) are largely based on evidence from high-income countries. Little is known about the manifestation and role of mental health literacy in countries where collectivist health and social cultures are dominant. Aim: This study aimed to examine the MHL of Indonesian children and young people (CYP) with experience of mental illness, and their parents.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 40 participants (19 CYP aged 11-15 with experience of mental illness and 21 parents) from three areas of Java, Indonesia. Data were analysed using framework analysis, informed by Jorm’s 1997 Mental Health Literacy Framework. Results: Parents and CYP demonstrated relatively low levels of mental health literacy defined from a conventional perspective. Religiosity and spirituality were salient in participants’ accounts, particularly parents, as were narratives about personal responsibility. These beliefs appeared to contribute to a high level of self-blame for mental illness, self-reliance for symptom management, the foregrounding of support from spiritual/traditional healers, and a reduced propensity to access professional help. CYP were heavily reliant on family support, but parents often felt they were not best placed to communicate with their children about mental health. Providing trusted, technology-based sources of mental health information were advocated by CYP.
Conclusion: Robust efforts are needed to improve mental health literacy in low-and-middle-income countries drawing on culturally appropriate approaches to reduce stigma and optimize timely, effective help-seeking for CYP.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Mental Health
Early online date21 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2022


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