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Survey highlights inadequate resourcing

December 2 2004

Mental Health Survey highlights inadequate resourcing of family support

Schizophrenia Fellowship New Zealand Inc has been rocked by the way that findings of a mental health survey released yesterday by Mental Health Foundation and Like Minds, Like Mine are being interpreted.

The survey, ‘Respect Costs Nothing’, reported that from a survey of 785 people with experience of mental illness, 59% of those surveyed had experienced discrimination in the form of rejection by family and friends. This included “being left out activities, abusive language and being cut out people’s lives completely”.

Schizophrenia Fellowship NZ Inc Chief Executive Officer Barbara Halliday, had this to say about the survey:

“It [the survey] highlights what we already know; that there are inadequacies and resourcing around providing families with information, support and education around mental illness. If families knew more about mental illness and how best to support their loved ones, these issues would not be so prevalent. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about first presentations of mental illness can often be mistaken as ‘bad behaviour’ by family/whanau and treated as such. If families are given information and support right from the start, the situation improves.

I would like to see the survey results used in a productive manner; a positive outcome would be substantially increased funding for family support, information and education”.

Many family members supporting a person experiencing mental illness have been upset by the survey. SFNZ Inc National President Dr Geoff Bridgman commented that the survey does not appear to distinguish between family and friends and that it would be a surprise if, in the large and diverse range of family and friends known to a person, that someone did not discriminate.

“What the survey fails to recognize, is that the road to recovery, depends, for all consumers, on a powerful supportive relationship by some family and friends. The way that this information has been released fails to recognize this. Furthermore, families themselves are subject to the same kind of discrimination the survey identifies”. Said Dr Bridgman.

SFNZ Inc is very supportive of research that uncovers and addresses areas of stigma and discrimination and is working with families to eliminate that.

ENDS

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