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Foundation expresses concern over Treasury reports

Foundation expresses concern over Treasury reports

The Mental Health Foundation is concerned about the potential discrimination in employment for people with experience of mental illness following the recent release of five treasury reports.

The reports, based on Statistics NZ Survey of Family, Income and Employment, stated that employees with mental illness have a bigger impact on the whole labour force than an employee with chronic physical disease. However the Foundation believes that these figures could be drastically improved if more employers were to work towards creating a stigma-free workplace.

“Just because a person has a diagnosis of mental illness says nothing about their ability to do a particular job” says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation “In fact, the Wall Street Journal Online has stated that ‘companies that do hire and retain employees with serious mental disorders often find a payoff: Many workers with such illnesses have shown the strength to overcome great barriers and have acquired impressive credentials in the process’ ”.

Employment plays a critical role in someone’s recovery as it gives them a feeling of self worth. It provides financial and social benefits. The focus needs to be on an individual’s performance rather than their diagnosis or experience of mental illness.

“With one in five New Zealanders experiencing some form of mental illness in any one year, it is important that people feel comfortable disclosing their experiences to their employers” says Ms Clements. “Experience of a mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, through full disclosure people are not only able to feel more comfortable at work but they are able to help those around them gain more understanding”

Stigma-free and mentally healthy workplaces don’t happen by accident. Employers can make a difference by recognising their obligations under the Human Rights Act, which include making reasonable accommodations in work for people experiencing mental illness. If management establish an inclusive culture in their workplaces where differences are valued and discrimination is not accepted then there is less likely to be stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

More information: For more information on creating mentally healthy workplaces please visit the Like Minds, Like Mine resource finder - http://www.likeminds.org.nz/resourcefinder/index.php?c=listings&m=results&topic=64 For more information on Working Well, New Zealand's premier mental health training programme for the workplace please visit - http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/page/31-Welcome To read about how Vero insurance have created a stigma-free and mentally healthy workplace please visit - http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/file/Working-Well/mental-health-at-work-article-0810.pdf

ENDS

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