The state and my happiness: youth mental health, citizenship education, and discursive contestations in contemporary Indonesia

Teguh Wijaya Mulya, Francesca Salvi, Paul Gorczynski, Tanya Wells-Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Complementing existing studies on youth mental health which were mainly depoliticised, individualised, and biomedicalised, this article offer a discursive examination of youth mental health in an Indonesian educational context in order to highlight its political underpinnings. Our main argument is that subject positions enabled by the dominant discourse of mental health might be at odds with the historically powerful constructions of an ideal young Indonesian citizen. Drawing upon qualitative data from 22 teachers and 20 students in a junior high school in Surabaya, Indonesia, as well as analyses of educational policies, textbooks, and media reports, we identified three dominant discourses underpinning the ideal(ised) constructions of a young Indonesian citizen – namely neoliberalism, (masculine) patriotism, and (religious) moralism. We argued that the discourse of mental health contradicted various aspects of these discourses, from putting aside one’s happiness in the face of patriotic calls for individual sacrifice and achievement, enduring high school work demands for the sake of one’s future in the labour market, to moralistic demands to obey and conform to social norms at the expense of one’s sense of agency. The implications of this analysis offer some insights on how youth mental health promotion could more effectively navigate and negotiate these discursive terrains.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren and Society
Early online date6 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 6 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • youth mental health
  • citizenship education
  • discourse analysis
  • Indonesia

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