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Slide1: 

Respect Costs Nothing: A Survey of Mental Health Discrimination in New Zealand

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A survey to gather information about discrimination against people with experience of mental illness and how it impacts on their lives.

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We did the survey so we could: Thoroughly understand discrimination and its impact Ensure the anti-discrimination work is informed by the voices of people with experience of mental illness Powerfully communicate how discrimination impacts on people’s lives Confidently advocate about issues we know impact greatly on people’s lives Influence, develop and change policy and practice to reduce discrimination

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Received 785 responses in total. This represents a much higher number of people with experience of mental illness than similar studies done overseas. It reflects the commitment of people to contribute to this effort to help fight discrimination.

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An example question: 1 Have you experienced discrimination due to your experience of mental illness: a while you were looking for a job? ٱ Yes ٱ No ٱ Not Applicable b while you were in a job ٱ Yes ٱ No ٱ Not Applicable Please tell us about your experience (e.g. What happened? When did it happen? What action did you take?):

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Topic areas covered were: Employment (2 questions) Education and Training Housing Mental health services Other health services Government agencies (eg Work and Income, Police) Local government services (eg libraries, swimming pools) Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions Sports clubs and organised activities Parents Discrimination from friends and family Harassment in the community Fear of being discriminated against (e.g not wanting to apply for a job incase you are discriminated against)

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Top Six Areas of Discrimination - Pākehā

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Top Six Areas of Discrimination - Māori

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Top Six Areas of Discrimination - Pacific

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Employment – Looking for a Job “I went for a job interview at a supermarket. They asked if I had any medical problems and I said I had had some problems with depression and anxiety and I was on medication for it. I told them I would be alright working and would not spin out or cause any problems at work. I never heard back from them even though they said they would ring within a week. I think I was discriminated against here.”

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Employment – In a Job “When someone I worked with said that I would not be able to do a particular computer task, it would be too much for me, and that I was lower functioning compared to other people. A person at work thought that I could not do alphabetical order when filing.”

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Education and Training “Once my teachers etc found out that I had a mental illness they immediately expected my marks to drop and my attendance to go down. They set standards for me that were really different from everyone else. I proved them wrong because my marks stayed high and my attendance mark didn’t change significantly.”

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Housing “When we were looking for accommodation in [a town], where I was known to have a mental illness, it was very hard to find somewhere so we moved out of the area and I tell nobody in our community that I have a mental illness”

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Health Services “The discrimination ranged from disrespect to traumatic abuse. If I had to rate the worst discrimination I have been subjected to, I would rate mental health services at the top.” “Mainly with the general side of the hospital … where consumers are treated like lepers”

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Government Agencies “I experienced discrimination at WINZ. One staff member was quite rude and asked some personal questions in relation to my illness. My dad and the staff member had an argument.” “The Police took me to hospital in the police car while I was dressed in my pyjamas. They did not let me have a lawyer before taking me to hospital. No sympathy. They make me feel like a criminal with a police escort. No rights.”

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Financial Institutions “I applied for mortgage insurance. On filling out the questionnaire I stupidly admitted to have some problems with depression, and so was denied mortgage insurance, or pay heavy premiums or so up front. I explained my excellent work record with minimum time off with depression, and the fact I had two school children to provide a home, but to no avail. Even the agent was disgusted.”

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Sports Clubs “Some members of the sports club openly showed discrimination and refused to play me because I am mentally ill.”

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Parenting “My ex-husband tried to use the fact that I have a mental illness as proof that I was an unfit mother in one of his custody claims.” “CYPS took my now 5 year old baby off us when it was three months old because I was on medication and could not function properly. They just took it out of my arms and made my husband sign the forms.”

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Friends and Family “I do not get help or support (contact is very limited). I miss them. My brother has almost cut me out of his life. Old friends cut me off completely - cross the road - too busy to talk or visit, neighbours stopped all communication (we had, I thought, been very good friends).”

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Community Harassment “We were eating at the mall and some guys called us nutters and we had to leave and return to the hospital.”

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Fear of Discrimination “I seldom divulge my experience of mental illness because I fear discrimination. This means I don’t feel who I am is entirely okay. I feel ashamed because I don’t feel I can be completely open in many situations.”

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“In general I have a good life and discrimination is not a major issue. In some ways it helps me to refine my actions. I can overcome adversity and negativity, and be strengthened. As noted in other responses, discrimination reflects more of the discriminator than the recipient.”

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Key Messages Discrimination is cross-sectoral, leads to exclusion Cumulative effects Fear of discrimination Disclosure Common stereotypes, and the need to take responsibility

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“I need to see people accepting us as people not because of our illness.”   “I want to be treated as an ordinary person. I want to get on with my life with all new possibilities and the support of the community.”

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