Mental Health (Cope)

Self-guided psycho-social support for refugees in Indonesia.


Most refugees in Indonesia meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. However, only approximately 1000 refugees currently have access to irregular psycho-social support with trained mental health professionals, even less that understand the specific issue impacting on mental health in refugee communities. In the 2nd half of 2017 UNCHR Indonesia began announcing to refugee communities they will not be resettled for many years if ever, rates of depression, hopelessness and attempted suicide dramatically increased. 

There is an urgent need to develop accessible and sustainable mental health programs and psycho-social support for refugees and asylum seekers. However, trained professionals with knowledge about refugee backgrounds, conflict, trauma and ongoing mental health issues are very low in number, and the ability to conduct treatment in refugee languages are lacking. In Indonesia there is still a huge stigma attached to mental health problems. Additionally, many people from refugee communities do not have the ability to leave the place they stay – many are in detention, community housings with curfew or restricted to home because of cultural attitudes, child duties, lack of language to integrate outside their home, the stigma of being seen as a refugee, a lack of understanding of the problems they face, self-esteem problems and more. 

Self-guided therapeutic workbooks have been proven to be effective in multiple contexts and are accessible to larger populations.  Additionally, trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and culturally adapted cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be effective among refugee populations globally. 

In 2018, We worked with trained counselors to draft a workbook, consisting of 13 weeks of daily mental health exercises which will be available both online and in hard copy, and translated to at least 6 languages.

We also run group activities alongside the workbooks, including motivational talks, mindfulness practices and fun activities.

We trained 22 refugee representatives and community leaders to bring the book to the community and support individuals to use it.

We are also planning on collaborating with psychology interns from Indonesian universities, to train them and have them supervise the implementation of our mental health journals, and trained refugee representatives who are implementing it, help with challenges they face, and also do one on one counseling sessions with the refugees who need it.



  • Create an ongoing system for identification, access, treatment, referrals, and advocacy for refugee mental health in Indonesia.
  • Develop capacity of local refugees and professionals to assist individuals experiencing mental illnesses.
  • Increase access to mental health services though the development of a self-guided support tool.
  • Advocate for increased awareness and access to support for refugee populations in Indonesia.


Needs to sustain this program:

  • Translation of the journal to at least 5 languages.
  • Multilingual online platform to make it accessible for as many refugees as possible.