GHENT, Belgium, Oct. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Bagus Utomo, an Indonesian man who was motivated by his brother's mental illness, has been selected as the inaugural winner of the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award for his tireless work to provide resources to fight stigma associated with schizophrenia through his organization Komunitas Peduli Skizofrenia Indonesia (Indonesia Community Care for Schizophrenia), or KPSI. The Dr. Guislain Award program is a joint project of the Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research & Development, LLC. Janssen provides financial and in kind support for the program. The winner receives a $50,000 prize that must be used toward further work to reduce societal stigma about mental health and disorders of the brain.
"Stigma has extremely harmful effects on those living with mental illness – from worsening of their condition to not seeking treatment for it because of the shame they feel or fear of the way they will be treated," said former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, co-founder/co-chairman of One Mind for Research and member of the Award's selection committee. "This award was created because of the need to 'break the chains' of stigma that still characterize societies' perception around these conditions. The work of Bagus Utomo's organization is a great example of fighting these perceptions, and why he was selected as the first winner of the award."
Mr. Utomo, a librarian in Jakarta, began his mission when his brother began showing symptoms of schizophrenia and was diagnosed with this chronic brain disorder in 1995, followed by many years of unsuccessful treatment. During this time Mr. Utomo and his family were not able to find much information about the disease and had no one with whom to share their burden. So motivated by intense need and the desire to help other struggling families, Mr. Utomo founded KPSI.
"In Indonesia, mental health conditions are sometimes still viewed as not being 'real' diseases and we still have a long way to go to help people living with these conditions – both with treatment and fighting stigma," said Mr. Utomo. "It was more than 10 years before we were able to find the appropriate treatment for my brother and it was terribly frustrating. I began looking for my own information online and created our first website from my own expenses. I have sought to bring light and hope to those suffering from schizophrenia and its associated stigmas."
KPSI provides information about schizophrenia and community support for patients and their families. The organization's mission is to educate patients, caregivers and the public on the disorder and to actively combat the associated stigma. KPSI started with a website, then added a dedicated group on a popular search engine, and now primarily communicates through a Facebook page with more than 5,500 users and a Twitter handle. Through Mr. Utomo's efforts, patients with schizophrenia have access to support groups, mental health workshops and therapeutic activities including painting, sports and film screenings. KPSI conducts regular activities and meetings for those affected by schizophrenia in Jakarta, as well as urban and rural areas throughout the Indonesian archipelago. In addition, KPSI works as a liaison between communities, non-government organizations and the Indonesian government to improve the knowledge of proper treatment of schizophrenia, and the harmful effects of mental health stigma.
KPSI is a non-profit organization recognized by the Indonesian Republic, and has been lauded for its support of schizophrenia patients and their caregivers by the Minister of Health of Indonesia.
"I am thrilled to accept the inaugural Dr. Guislain Award for 'Breaking the Chains of Stigma,'" said Utomo. "Technology has been the key to success for the organization so far. With this generous Award, I hope to build a new website with even more information, engage health care providers and add support groups for caregivers. The progress I have seen over the last 12 years makes me hopeful that we will one day live in a world no longer encumbered by mental health stigma."
The Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award is named for and honors the legacy of Dr. Joseph Guislain (1797-1860), the first Belgian psychiatrist to provide scientifically based treatment for patients with mental illness and a staunch patient advocate. Both Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen are organizations with a rich heritage and long-standing involvement in the field of mental illness research, treatment and education. For more than 25 years, the Museum has existed to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness.
"Mr. Utomo's passionate advocacy for those with mental illness has made a tangible impact on patients living with schizophrenia and other mental health conditions in Indonesia," said Brother Rene Stockman, general manager of the Museum Dr. Guislain. "His work has improved the accessibility of information on mental health and contributed to increased public acceptance that these conditions are medical and awareness of the damaging effects of stigma."
Janssen's sponsorship of this award reflects its more than 50-year commitment to helping find solutions for patients with mental illness. The Award is an important component of Janssen's Healthy Minds initiative, which aims to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and public-sector partners to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for diseases and disorders of the brain, as well as support the mental health community and various advocacy organizations and projects.
"Janssen is pleased to recognize the outstanding educational and advocacy work of Bagus Utomo and his commitment to combating mental health stigma throughout Indonesia," said Husseini K. Manji, M.D., Global Therapeutic Area Head for Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. "Mr. Utomo exemplifies the best qualities of advocates worldwide who work continuously to help people living with brain disorders, a goal that is aligned with our work at Janssen."
The accomplishments of Mr. Utomo's organization will be celebrated tomorrow, World Mental Health Day, in a ceremony at the Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent, Belgium.
Museum Dr. Guislain issued the call for nominations for the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award on July 12, 2012. More than 60 nominations were received from across the globe, after which a jury of international mental health advocates and renowned authorities in the field deliberated on the winner.
About the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award
Individuals, organizations or projects all over the world that have made an exceptional contribution in dealing with, or promoting the awareness of, mental health care are eligible to receive the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award. The Award is given to an individual(s), organization or project that:
The inaugural jury is comprised of:
About Museum Dr. Guislain
The Museum Dr. Guislain was founded in 1986 in Ghent, Belgium, and its exhibits address the history of psychiatry in a permanent collection and through a series of half-yearly changing thematic exhibitions. The Museum features an array of psychiatric photographs, two centuries of comprehensive archives and an extensive library chronicling the history of psychiatry. Comprehensively, the Museum seeks to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness. The Museum Dr. Guislain attracts 65,000 visitors each year.
About Dr. Joseph Guislain
Dr. Joseph Guislain (1797-1860) was a driven activist for patients with mental illness and the first Belgian psychiatrist to provide scientifically-based treatment for these individuals. As a passionate advocate for those with mental illness, Dr. Guislain worked tirelessly to stand up for the rights of patients and help improve their social position. He lectured and published extensively about mental illness and enjoyed considerable recognition by his contemporaries.
For more information, about the Dr. Guislain Award, please visit www.drguislainaward.org.
Museum Dr. Guislain
SOURCE Museum Dr. Guislain