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Seeking Help - Physical Health vs Mental Health

What are the difference between seeking help for physical health and mental health? Or is there an actual difference between the two?

Time and time again we often hear that it is a lot harder and complicated to seek help for your mental health than it is for your physical health. To an extent this might be true but let’s break it down together shall we.

Physical Health Mental Health
When do I seek help? When something is not right.
When you feel uncomfortable or ill physically. This could be feeling pain, weird liquid coming out of holes or rashes in your skin.
When something is not right.
When you have been feeling really sad, overwhelmed and depressed for more than 2 weeks and if it has been affecting your day to day life.
Who do I turn to first? Your GP is ideally the first point of contact. This is because your GP is able to do a whole body system review and will help point you to the right specialist. You can start by turning to the people closest to you, your family and friends. Though if you do not feel comfortable, you can talk to the counsellor in school. If that is not available to you, you can talk to your trusted GP.
What do I say to my GP? Describe the issue you are experiencing. Your GP will ask you a series of questions that would help you to describe your situation Tell them your concerns and how you’ve been feeling lately.
Be open and honest with them.
What can my GP do for me? Your GP would do a whole body system review and do necessary tests such as a blood test, urine test etc, to come to a diagnosis. Your GP will ask you questions and rule out possible physical cause before referring you to the proper help you need.
Who can my GP refer to? Depending on the issue, your GP might refer you to a specialist or other health professionals such as a physiotherapist etc. Your GP can refer you to a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist when needed.
What are the treatment options? GP might be able to prescribe you medication for your illness. Different kinds of sit down therapy and when needed, a psychiatrist might prescribe medication.
Do I have to meet anyone regularly? Depending on the diagnosis, you might need to comeback however, there are also conditions that a prescription of a pill is enough. Usually for mental health conditions, it is not a one pill for all. To find the right kind of treatment, it is mostly trial and error, that is why meeting regularly with a psychologist and psychiatrist is recommended.
Maintenance? Medical check-ups and screenings are usually used hoping to catch a disease or illness early before it progresses. An example could be a pap-smear or breast scan. Usually, when faced with traumatic experiences whether it is from a job (e.g. army) or life tragedy (e.g. diagnosed with cancer, death of a relative, car crash) — people often sees a psychologist directly to check on their mental health to introduce coping mechanisms to prevent a mental illness from progressing.

As you can see, there’s not actually much difference to seeking help for the two. So why is it harder for people to seek help for mental health?

There are a few reasons to why people find it harder to seek help for mental health in Indonesia. There is a lot of misunderstandings and lack of education when it comes to mental health. We are seeing more and more awareness lately, which is extremely exciting!

Though one of the biggest hurdles that might need some time to break is the stigma that mental health hold; there’s this personal guilt or fault when people realise that something is going wrong with their mental health. There is usually a huge denial when it comes to mental health conditions, whether is you denying it or the people around you such as your family or friends.

It is always better safe than sorry. When things feel out of place and not right, it is alright to seek help. I mean, we’ll start to get concerned if a cough is not going away after a month, then we too should be concerned if we’ve been feeling low more than usual. Understand that your physical health is just as important as mental health.

Now with that being said, we do also understand that there are other factors that do halt people in seeking help for their mental health in Indonesia. For example, there are a limited number of psychologists and psychiatrists. In 2014, WHO reported that Indonesia has a low psychiatrist to population ratio with 0.01 psychiatrist per 100,000 people. Data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health further emphasised that there are only 600-800 psychiatrists for the whole of Indonesia. This means that if every single person that needs treatment gets assigned to at least one psychiatrist, one psychiatrist might have to take care of 300,000-400,000 patients. Wild right?

So to make it a little easier, the Ministry of Health in Indonesia has developed a database where you are able to search for mental health facilities and care based on your location.

Head on to this website to check which is the closest place you can find help.

More online services are also available whether from Indonesian organisations or foreign organisations.

Learn more about seeking help at Seribu Tujuan

World Health Organization. (2014, 08). Mental Health: a state of well-being . Retrieved from World Health Organization:

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). (2016). Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.Seattle: Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network.