#iamimaji: Asaelia Aleeza of Ubah Stigma

Written by: Nabyl Rahardjo; Edited by: Shari Semesta

Ubah Stigma is a non-profit organization with the   purpose to raise mental health awareness against the mental health stigmas in Indonesia. From two high-school friends, Asaelia Aleeza and Emily Jasmine created this organization to create a positive impact in the community. Studying abroad, Asaelia in the UK and Emily in Canada did not stop them starting this movement once back home in Indonesia as they sense what was missing.It was raining heavily one afternoon in Oeang M Bloc Space, where we meet Sasya and Asaelia. Though both very young, they were actively changing the negative stigmas youngsters in Jakarta about mental health. The five of us hung out for hours talking about what it means to have a healthy mind, kicking out bad habits, and the struggles of our generation in maintaining work life balance. Sasya and Asaelia works in a non-profit called Ubah Stigma (Stigma Change), and Asaelia will be speaking in our exhibition about the science of sleep. During this long talk, we talked of life and they both shared their point of views of the people they encounter along the way.


What’s the story behind your organization, Ubah Stigma?

A: There are so many stigmas around people seeking professional help. You are labelled as a mad man. So initially we thought of making an app that people can use when they are feeling uncomfortable, anxious, or depressed. But the question lingers, “Will people actually use this app?” We know for a fact that people in Indonesia are afraid to reach out to psychologists. 


What drives you in creating this platform?

A: For me personally, I want to contribute positively to the community in any kind of way. With my skills and knowledge in psychology, I feel like this is the way for me to help people. Also, everyone around me was on board with the vision so that drives and motivates me a lot.


Morning person/Night owl?

S: It seems like I’m not a night owl at all. My brain stops working at 11 p.m.

A: I’m definitely a morning person, the earlier I wake up the more productive I am.


What can you tell people about sleep?

S: I always try to sleep at least for six hours. Five hours of sleep usually tire me out the next day. It’s crucial to have enough sleep to function.

 A: It is a bad idea to tire yourself out to sleep with digital gadgets. It will only make you lose your sleep quality. Sleep is a basic human need, people sometimes forget that basic necessity and fret over quantity rather than quality.  


Let's talk about mental health in general, when is the right time to seek a professional?

A: Based on World Health Organization you are mentally healthy when you are able to be productive. When all your emotions control not only your mind but also your bodily productivity, it might be time to seek help. For example, everyone gets sad but when you can’t function or can’t do your daily routines because your sadness took a huge toll on you then you should get help.


What does one define ‘support system’?

A: Your support system is your closest family and friends. Humans are social in nature therefore we have to have somebody else to talk to and socialize. Your closest family and friends play a big role on keeping you mentally healthy because they are the ones you need to let out your emotions and thoughts. People need to be listened to most of the times and a good support system creates that environment.

"A good support system listens well. It is crucial that people’s voices are heard and acknowledged."


What do you think about today’s generation and the media romanticizing mental illness?

S: Romanticizing mental illness has a very negative effect to those actually who are not mentally healthy. It can lead to self-diagnosing and it can be harmful. Self-diagnosing is a tricky subject, it can lead to the tendency to label oneself with a mental condition. It is not good to underestimate your sad emotions but labelling them too soon with depression can also have a very negative effect on your mental health.

 A: It is good to be able to accept yourself and all your emotions but it is crucial to balance them out and be able to practice managing your emotions.


Mind, body, and soul. Thoughts?

A: There is always this mind-body connection, through science and biology we know for a fact that there are a lot of neurological pathways. Everything that involves your body is connected to your brain. The body reacts to what your brain tells you so between the mind and the body there is always a scientific connection. I do believe in the importance of keeping the three in balance.


Mental health stigma in Indonesia that annoys you.

A: People here think that a person with mental health issues are only emotional people and that logical individuals are not prone to this. I do believe that maintaining the balance between mental health and physical health is for everybody. Each person is different and each has their own traumas in their life, so people needs to start empathizing with other people’s troubles. Parents play a big role in how we shape our senses, and though we may not recognize it but most of our perspectives and traumas comes from various ways of parenting.


What interests you about MIBOSO? What do you look for in this exhibition?

A: When approached to collaborate, it just happened that we are also having this campaign called ‘Building Bridges: Mind, Body, and Soul’ which relates a lot to what MIBOSO is about. Within this campaign we promote a healthy lifestyle to make peace with ourselves to ensure our mental and physical health. So, everything about MIBOSO aligned with our messages and campaigns which is great.


Your go-to soul cleansing activities:

S: My go-to soul cleansing activity is just having time to myself. To do things I love and just to listen what my mind and body is telling me. Usually when I get tired, I make time for myself to recharge alone. I feel like I am an introvert and I need this time to tune in with my energy.

 A: For me it’s the same, I like to take time out of my busy schedule to just spend quality time with myself.


** Be part of the change. For more information and mental health support please head to http://www.ubahstigma.org/

Written by Imaji Studio