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Like Minds, Like Mine Campaign - Health Minister

Health Minister Annette King said today she was proud to support the Health Funding Authority's mass media campaign to counter stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness

Mrs King launched the campaign, Like Minds, Like Mine, at a function in Parliament at 4pm today.

"We all know either members of our families or people in the community who have experienced a mental illness at some time. As a constituent Member of Parliament I know the dilemmas and trials faced by people battling with a mental illness, and often am ashamed at how the community and some providers treat people with mental illness."

Mrs King said the campaign had been recommended by the Mason report.

"I know that the Health Funding Authority and community groups have been working hard to lay the groundwork for this, but I am also realistic that it will not change attitudes over night. Often stigma and discrimination are based on fear and ignorance. So it is important we counter this by arming as many as possible with balanced information.

"Like Judge Mason, I believe that a well directed publicity strategy will bring success. I am optimistic a well informed New Zealand public will realise that the mentally ill are people whom we should nurture and value."

Mrs King said the awareness campaign was one component of a project that began in 1996. The project would cost $12 million over five years.

"Of course, you can't change deep-seated social attitudes with one or two sixty second television advertisements, but you have to start somewhere. It is important to recognise that this project will not succeed unless government and community work together to achieve the goal of a society in which everyone has a valued place.

"I would like to acknowledge the personal courage of the people who appear in the ads. It takes a lot to stand up in our community and say that I have had a mental illness, and I know that their courage will help inform the public."

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