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Mental health stories: When sharing really is caring

Deloitte Indonesia Assistant Manager, Gerald, explains how asking for help inspired him to be more open about mental wellbeing as part of our series aiming to reduce societal stigma around mental health

My experience with depression has made me an optimist.

It sounds like a complete contradiction but what I really mean is that my experience of mental ill health gives me hope that Indonesian society is becoming more open about talking about and taking action on mental health.
I hope that, by sharing my own story, I can contribute in a small way toward this change.

As in many societies, there’s still a great deal of stigma attached to mental health in Indonesia. I believe this is often rooted in a lack of awareness and understanding of mental illness. In my personal experience, I often see those around me looking to their faith to overcome mental health challenges. While this can provide comfort and strength, there’s also a risk that those with clinical mental health conditions may not always get the empathy and professional treatment they need.

This attitude permeates society and means that people are sometimes reluctant to discuss mental health as freely as their physical health and often don’t realise that professional mental health support is out there. But I think this is starting to change and I believe businesses can have a leading role to play in raising awareness. And I want to contribute toward this evolution by sharing my story.

In 2019, I found myself battling depression. I’m generally an upbeat and positive person but depression made me feel as though I no longer had a future and I found it impossible to see a way forward. With the additional stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, my mental state deteriorated, and I felt suicidal. When I reached this low point, I knew I had to get help and I was able to arrange therapy through Deloitte Indonesia’s Employee Assistance Programme.

I realised through the sessions with my psychologist that my depression was linked to unresolved trauma from my past, including having been bullied in high school and anxiety problems. Learning the causes of my depression and better understanding its triggers are how I have learned to manage my mental health, and part of my journey to recovery. While all my problems haven’t gone away, therapy has given me a new perspective and the awareness I needed to be able to recover and most importantly, I found meaning in the hardships that I had to go through.

Today, I’m able to recognise the triggers that can lead me into depression and I’m a lot more open about talking about how I feel with my friends and family, and this helps relieve the pressure. I’ve also been inspired by books I’ve read, such as Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl, 1946) and The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel van der Kolk, 2014) and have integrated yoga, meditation and exercise into my wellbeing regime.

I’ve noticed that being open about my experience has helped encourage others to open up about their own struggles and seek help when needed. My hope is that, if they too are able to share their experience, we’ll be able to see more people prioritising and acknowledging the importance of their mental wellbeing and in this way contribute to raising awareness and reducing stigma across society.

Gerald, Deloitte Indonesia

Deloitte’s mental health story series aims to break down barriers to talking about mental health. It is not intended to – and does not – offer advice nor substitute professional mental health support. If you are experiencing mental ill health or are concerned about someone else’s mental health, please contact your national or local helpline or healthcare provider for support.