PhD student Sandersan Onie is transforming Indonesian mental health policy, perceptions and practice through research, advocacy and collaboration. Sandersan is engaging the Indonesian public, psychologists and government agencies to improve health outcomes and combat cultural stigmas associated with anxiety and depression. Examples of Sandersan’s diverse projects include: an initiative called ‘What I Wish They Knew’ for Indonesians to report what they wished loved ones knew, did and said during difficult times; a global project to pair labs from developing countries with labs from developed countries in a mutually beneficial research arrangement; and a webinar to improve research practices in Southeast Asia. His approach is unique but effective, combining strategic vision, scientific rigour and personal experience.
Sandersan is an early career researcher with a very bright future ahead of him. Not only has he vastly improved evidence-based policy and practice in Indonesian mental health, but he is a champion for methods that improve behavioural science and scientific rigour more generally.
I don’t know if I considered myself a thought leader before this, although I did know that some of my ideas were quite radical!
Mental health research in Indonesia is still in its infancy and there's practically no funding whatsoever. A lot of people who share about their mental illness are stigmatised, and a lot are met with violence. People are suffering and we need to challenge the status quo to help them. The fact that the University is shining a spotlight on these things is of incredible importance.