The community health worker experience and perception toward mental illness: A multi-settings cross-sectional study in Indonesia

Marthoenis Marthoenis, Rizki Fitryasari, Martina Martina, Husna Hidayati, Hasmila Sari, Sri Warsini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The experiences and perceptions of Community Health Workers toward mental illness are vital for tailoring interventions, reducing stigma, improving access to services, and fostering community engagement in mental health initiatives. Aims: This study investigates the experiences of community health worker and their perception of mental illness. Methods: A multi-settings cross-sectional study was conducted among 487 Community Health Workers. Their experience and perception toward mental illness were studied with questionnaires, which examined their general perception, religious-related perception, cause, treatment, and expectation for mental treatment. Results: Most participants concurred that serving as a community health worker enhances their communication abilities (90.4%), strengthens connections with community health center staff (84.8%), boosts self-confidence (84.6%), and refines their capacity to identify signs of mental disorders (77%). Most notably, they consider their fellow community health workers essential to their extended family. Furthermore, a notable proportion associates’ mental illness with religious elements, with 19.5% believing it can result from a lack of religious worship and a minority attributing it to witchcraft or black magic (3.5%). In terms of treatment, 14.2% think Ruqyah can cure mental illness, 6.4% believe in treatment by religious scholars, and a similar percentage (6.4%) think no medication or treatment is necessary for mental problems. Conclusion: Participants overwhelmingly recognize the positive impact of serving as community health workers, citing improvements in communication, relationships with health center staff, self-confidence, and mental disorder identification. The strong bond among community health workers, likened to an extended family, emphasizes their collective importance. Additionally, the majority advocates for compassionate treatment of individuals with mental illness. These findings underscore the complex interplay of professional, communal, and cultural elements in addressing community mental health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • community engagement
  • Community health workers
  • literacy
  • mental illness
  • perception


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