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Bagus Utomo wins first Award

10 - 10 - 2012

The Indonesian Bagus Utomo has been selected as the winner of the Dr. Guislain Award 2012. The Museum Dr. Guislain and Janssen Research & Development, LLC rewarded Bagus Utomo, who was motivated by his brother's mental illness, for his tireless work to provide resources about and fight stigma associated with schizophrenia through his organization Komunitas Peduli Skizofrenia Indonesia (Indonesia Community Care for Schizophrenia), or KPSI. KPSI is an organization that provides online information about schizophrenia and community support for patients and their families.

"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."

"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) during the inaugural. "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'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 René 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 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."

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.

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