Indonesian state health insurer takes down "Joker" post amid criticism

Agency’s public service announcement on social media slammed by mental health advocates

Indonesian state health insurer takes down "Joker" post amid criticism

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

BPJS Kesehatan, the Indonesian state-owned health insurer, has taken down a controversial public service announcement that used the image of Joaquin Phoenix’s character from the movie Joker.

According to a report by the Jakarta Post, the insurer’s Facebook post aimed to encourage people with mental health problems to enrol in the national health insurance programme. Using these services would help “avoid the birth of other Jokers.”

The post drew criticism from several mental health organisations, who argued that the post implied that all people with mental health disorders are on the way to becoming like the Joker character, which is known for cruel criminal acts.

Sehat Jiwa Indonesia (Sejiwa), Bipolar Care Indonesia, and Amnesty International Indonesia were among the groups that condemned BPJS Kesehatan’s post.

“It’s important that the public is aware that stigma like this should not be held on to,” said Sejiwa representative Meidy in an open letter to BPJS Kesehatan published by Kompas.

“People with those conditions, such as those who are psychopathic or narcissistic, may not necessarily become criminals. They can go into therapy so they don’t show their destructive tendencies. There are hundreds of mental health conditions, and not all of them have potential [to create Jokers].”

BPJS Kesehatan spokesperson M. Iqbal Anas Ma’ruf said that the post has been taken down to avoid further misconceptions. 

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