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Stigma around mental ill health and applying for work

Green Party investigation shows wide spread stigma around mental ill health and applying for work

The Green Party has wrapped up its investigation into New Zealanders being potentially discriminated against for mental ill health whilst applying for work.

The 59 submissions showed that potential discrimination may be occurring across the private and public sector, with large companies like Wishbone, Coca-Cola, Air New Zealand, New World, Countdown and PWC all being raised by New Zealanders for potential misconduct when managing mental ill health in the job application process.

“This investigation demonstrates that there is a culture in New Zealand that still largely stigmatises mental ill heath, to the point where it would appear large employers are attempting to avoid hiring people with anxiety and depression, even if it does not inhibit their capacity to do the job. It seems widespread and systemic”, Green mental health spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said today.

“Requiring information on people’s mental health history in job applications is grounds for illegal discrimination. Businesses across New Zealand should be reviewing their hiring practices and considering if the process if potentially stigmatising and discriminatory.

“Rather than reinforcing a culture of stigma and fear around mental health, employers should be providing supportive workplaces and promoting well-being. Those who submitted spoke to a complete lack of clarity around what their mental health or medication information would be used for, which is disconcerting in the already stressful power-imbalance and tentative environment that exists around applying for jobs.

“We can do so much better. We know that across the country, New Zealanders do not feel they can call out for help when they’re struggling. This can have fatal consequences and we need to be offering support rather than continuing to perpetuate that mental ill health is something to be ashamed of.

“It’s time to take well-being seriously. The Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Report offers massive opportunity to change service delivery, but also prompts critical questions about how we treat each other and the need for cultural change. Investigating better employment practice and talking about how we create more supportive environments to curve the epidemic of mental ill health is central to this”.

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