Mental health in Aceh–Indonesia: A decade after the devastating tsunami 2004.
The province of Aceh has suffered enormously from the perennial armed conflict and the devastating Tsunami in 2004. Despite the waves of external aid and national concern geared toward improving healthcare services as part of the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts after the Tsunami, mental health services still require much attention. This paper aims to understand the mental healthcare system in Aceh Province, Indonesia; its main focus is on the burden, on the healthcare system, its development, service delivery and cultural issues from the devastating Tsunami in 2004 until the present. We reviewed those published and unpublished reports from the local and national government, from international instances (UN bodies, NGOs) and from the academic literature pertaining to mental health related programs conducted in Aceh. To some extent, mental health services in Aceh have been improved compared to their condition before the Tsunami. The development programs have focused on procurement of policy, improvement of human resources, and enhancing service delivery. Culture and religious beliefs shape the pathways by which people seek mental health treatment. The political system also determines the development of the mental health service in the province. The case of Aceh is a unique example where conflict and disaster serve as the catalysts toward the development of a mental healthcare system. Several factors contribute to the improvement of the mental health system, but security is a must. Whilst the Acehnese enjoy the improvements, some issues such as stigma, access to care and political fluctuations remain challenging.