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Just One In Four New Zealanders Believe Mental And Physical Health Are Treated Equally In The Healthcare System.

Just 25% of New Zealanders believe mental health and physical health are treated equally in the healthcare system according to an Ipsos Global Advisor Study. Over half (52%) believe that physical health is treated as more important than mental health.

The Ipsos Global Advisor Study regularly asks respondents from around the world, including New Zealand, for their views on different topics. Recently, Ipsos conducted a study across 31 countries to explore the mental and physical wellbeing of people. More than 20,000 people across 31 countries were surveyed.

In New Zealand, 1,005 people aged 18+ answered survey questions and the results have been compared to the 2019 NZ data for this module and the global results.

Key findings

  • New Zealanders are more likely to think about their physical wellbeing than their mental wellbeing and this hasn’t changed much since 2019.
    • Women tend to think about their wellbeing more often than men.
    • Younger New Zealanders (aged 18–34) often think about their mental wellbeing, but this declines with age.
    • Those with higher education and income levels are more likely to think of their wellbeing.
  • The majority of New Zealanders (78%) believe that mental health and physical health are equally important, but only 25% feel they are treated equally in our healthcare system.
  • Relationships with friends / family and personal finances are seen as having the biggest effect on mental wellbeing, followed by amount / quality of sleep and job / work–life balance.
  • Compared to 2019, more New Zealanders feel that we need to adopt a more tolerant attitude towards people with mental illness and that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength, indicating a further shift in attitudes towards mental health.

Detailed findings

Thinking about mental and physical wellbeing

Three quarters (76%) of New Zealanders (vs 68% global average and 73% Australia) think about their physical wellbeing often (either very often or fairly often) compared to just 57% of New Zealanders (vs 53% global average and 55% Australia) who do so regarding their mental wellbeing.

Globally, New Zealand ranks 10th and 8th in terms of how often people think of their mental and physical wellbeing respectively.

In New Zealand, women (64% mental wellbeing and 81% physical wellbeing) tend to think about their wellbeing more often than men (50% mental wellbeing and 71% physical wellbeing). Their scores are also higher compared to the global average for women (58% mental wellbeing and 71% physical wellbeing).

Three quarters (74%) of New Zealanders aged 18–34 years are more likely to think about their mental wellbeing. This declines amongst those aged 35–49 years (66%) and drops amongst those aged over 50 years (40%)

The frequency of thinking about wellbeing (both physical and mental) increases as education and income levels increase.

Mental health and the current healthcare system

When asked about the perceived importance of mental and physical health, 78% of New Zealanders stated that mental and physical health are equally important (vs 79% global average and 76% Australia). However, just 25% of New Zealanders feel that mental health and physical health are treated equally in the current health system (vs 35% global average and 27% Australia).

Though these figures are similar to 2019, the proportion of New Zealanders who feel physical health is treated as being more important in the healthcare system has declined (59% in 2019 to 52% in 2021) and the proportion of those who believe mental health and physical health are treated equally has increased marginally (from 21% in 2019 to 25% in 2021).

Factors affecting mental wellbeing

Two in 5 (42%) New Zealanders believe that relationships with friends and family is one of the key factors affecting their mental wellbeing. This is closely followed by personal finances (41%), amount / quality of sleep (36%) and job / work–life balance (30%). COVID-19 ranked 6th at 22%.

The key factors vary in rank or prominence based on age, with finances (44%) taking the top spot for those aged 35–49 years.

Mental health and society

Over the past couple of years there has been a shift in New Zealanders’ perceptions of mental illness. The majority feel that mental illness should be treated like any other (77% vs 73% in 2019) and that we need to adopt a more tolerant attitude toward people with mental illness in our society (82% vs 76% in 2019). Moreover, 79% agree that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength (up from 73% in 2019).

Commenting on the Ipsos Global Advisor Study, Carin Hercock, Managing Director, Ipsos New Zealand, said: “The top three factors that impact our mental wellbeing are particularly pertinent when we think about the impacts of Covid-19 over the last 18 months, families and friends have been separated, quality of sleep has been impacted and concerns over the economy last year and inflation this year, will all be having negative impacts on the mental wellbeing of New Zealanders. It is important to highlight that although we have seen improvement, New Zealand is well below the global average when it comes to the importance our healthcare system places on mental health when compared to physical health.”

Amanda Dudding, Research Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos New Zealand, added: “There are a large number of organisations and individuals who have been working hard to change the perceptions of mental health in New Zealand. Despite some of these beliefs being deeply ingrained in our culture, it seems this work is starting to pay off. It’s promising that we see significantly more New Zealanders believing seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength than just two years ago. The significant shift in the number who believe we need to be more tolerant towards New Zealanders with mental illness shows a clear desire for further progress in this area.”


About Global Advisor

The Ipsos Global Advisor Study regularly asks respondents from around the world for their views on different topics. This survey was conducted in 31 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. Between 500 and 1,000+ individuals participated on a country-by-country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel.

A total of 1,005 New Zealanders aged 18+ answered questions about mental health in our Global Advisor survey, which ran from 28 June to 4 July 2021.

This survey explored the mental and physical wellbeing of New Zealanders, as well as perceptions surrounding mental illness and society. For the purpose of this survey, we defined mental illness or mental health condition for respondents as an illness or condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour.

New Zealand data is presented alongside international data collected from 20 August to 3 September 2021, from a total of 21,513 interviews conducted with participants from 30 other countries.

The results of the global study have been added to the NZ report for comparison. NZ scores are not a part of the global average.

This study did not have any external sponsors or partners. It was initiated and run by Ipsos, because we are curious about the world we live in and how citizens around the globe think and feel about their world.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third-largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5,000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since 1 July 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index, and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP


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