Before the pandemic, depression and mental health issues in Indonesia were deemed a camouflage for weakness and irreligiousness. Topics on such were often stigmatized, and people with ones became a victim of injustice and abuse by the public.
According to a 2018 Indonesian Psychiatric Association research, 9 million of Indonesians suffered from depression, and many of them did not get the right treatments. Due to insufficient health services, there is only one licensed psychiatrist for every 300,000 to 400,000 people, and when they are available, they are not at all affordable.
Although the nation’s psychological healthcare services have not changed much after the pandemic, people’s education about mental health has received a significant growth spurt. The pandemic has rather been a blessing in disguise for mental health’s prevalence in Indonesia. Many more people, especially the younger generation in urban areas, experienced depression as a result of the pandemic, which considerably reduced the stigma around the condition.
Amidst the pandemic, longtime friends Chrysti Luckynelly and Nina Priatna experienced life-changing events, where they had to make significant decisions that could easily turn their worlds 180 degrees to completely different directions.
The two then felt a lost sense of direction, and they were struggling to reach the proper psychological/counseling service around them. Those affairs encouraged their realization of what they needed to achieve those objectives – they needed to journal to understand themselves better and reflect on what they exactly needed to achieve those objectives.
With Nina in Jakarta and Chrysti in Bali, the pair began cooking simple sustenance to fulfill their wellness needs while improving their holistic well-being and personal development. They developed the journal templates as they grew themselves, and eventually, after weighing the merits and demerits, they launched The Self Hug.
The Self Hug was then born nearing the end of 2020, right in the middle of pandemic heat. The brand launched with one physical journal in Indonesia, and subsequently, the world through the international community in both Jakarta and Bali.
The Self Hug’s fundamental philosophy, or ultimate objective, is to encourage the balancing of the eight wellness pillars, whether it is at home or work. The journal, moreover, has been designed to address one pillar in particular while sparking positive repercussions on the rest of the pillars.
“To address a balance, however, it is critical to recognize that wellness is simply your daily routine,” Chrysti explained. “How you form your habits will soon turn into a ritual, so the journal will help you sow gratitude and small happiness now, and soon reap the result as a grateful, happy human being that radiates joy.”
But above all, with the physical journal, The Self Hug wants to highlight that wellness is all about the journey, and the outcome is rather a complementary factor.” Chrysti smiled, “Remember, one step at a time.”
Whilst The Self Hug continuously challenges the norm where mental health is shaped for only women, the duo portrays their mission to raise mental health awareness and about their journal through easy-to-digest social media content.
The Emotion Wheel. Copyright of The Self Hug.
They therefore concentrate on both male and female millennials and generation Z, where they can make an impact accessible to just about anyone. They intend to start a trend among young people, start small, and grow sustainably as a business and community.
The pair created a community called The Group Hug on a WhatsApp Group, as a sanctuary for people to share about their wellness journey and learn from each other’s experiences. Through The Group Hug, they hosted a monthly virtual catch-up to discuss various wellness topics.
On some special occasions, they host free workshops with wellness experts for their members. A few months ago, for instance, the pair hosted their first offline gathering with a group of women for an afternoon of yoga, meditation, and journaling. Through the event, they managed to create a safe space for the participants, encourage them to be their best selves, and in return, they gained positive feedback.
“We found the feedback from the event to be rather uplifting,” Chrysti said, “and the best part is that our feedback came from outside of Jakarta and Bali, but also from other cities in Sumatera, Borneo, and other parts of Indonesia.”
Based on their responses, Chrysti then explained that the Self-Reflection Journal has helped them to get in touch with their emotions, shape positive habits, and increase focus towards individual targets.
“Through the Self-Reflection Journal, we managed to create a small impact on these women from this large country.” Chrysti smiled, “Most of them managed to shape positive habits – like exercising or eating better and all, while increasing focus on individual targets which make them feel more accomplished than ever before.”
The Group Hug Meet-up, June 2022.