An exploration of the Indonesian lay mental health workers’ (cadres) experiences in performing their roles in community mental health services: a qualitative study

Herni Susanti, Helen Brooks, Ice Yulia, Heni D. Windarwati, Estin Yuliastuti, Hasniah Hasniah, Budi A. Keliat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Volunteers trained to support community mental health programs in Indonesia are known as ‘mental health cadres.’ These are lay people trained to provide basic support for people with mental illness in their local communities. The role of cadres in community mental health services is to provide health promotion activities and support for people with mental illness, such as home visits and family assistance. Their contribution can potentially address the challenges health services currently face in remote and resource-limited settings. However, little is currently known about implementing this form of the lay workforce and the experiences of mental health cadres in Indonesia in particular. This study aimed to explore the experience of cadres when performing their roles in community mental health services in Indonesia from the cadres’ perspective. Methods: The study employed a descriptive qualitative design. Purposive sampling was employed to recruit cadres with at least one year of experience handling those diagnosed with schizophrenia across four geographical areas in Java and Sumatra, Indonesia. Data were collected utilising focus groups undertaken between July and November 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, eight focus group sessions for mental health cadres were carried out virtually via Zoom and non-virtual, facilitated by local moderators. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: The study involved 71 cadres in four regions: Aceh, Jakarta, West Java and East Java. The majority of participants were looking after their families with a minimum of high school-level qualifications. Four themes were interpreted from the data: (1) Motivation for volunteering, (2) The role of cadres in supporting mental health services, (3) Training and support needs in carrying out cadre roles, and (4) Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of cadre roles in local communities. Conclusions: Cadres reported a motivation to help people improve their mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Cadres also contributed to secondary and primary prevention of mental illness with some limitations. This study’s results are relevant to those wishing to understand and optimise the implementation of lay workforces in resource-limited settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024

Keywords

  • Cadre
  • Community mental health service
  • Lay health worker
  • Qualitative research
  • Roles

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