Abstract Discrimination of persons with mental disorders is widespread in New Zealand society. Practice of discrimination in areas such as education, court proceedings, property ownership, medical insurance cover and acquisition of driver’s license is common. The government working with non-governmental organizations continues to advocate for the rights of this group. The New Zealand government has ratified United Nation’s plan on persons with living with disability.
This ratification together with other strategic plans has enabled New Zealand makes progress towards radiation of discrimination against people with mental health disorder. This paper looks at the frameworks through which the government under the health ministry, District Health Boards and the Non-governmental Organizations seek to lower discrimination of people living with mental disorder in New Zealand. Introduction This paper provides an analytical review of discrimination in the mental health sector in New Zealand. The first part provides an analysis of values, extent and size of, not for profit sector.
The essay seeks to show the scope of discrimination in the lives of errors with mental health illnesses especially on such areas as work stations, legal proceedings, when looking for health insurance coverage, renting apartments, in educational institutions and when looking for driver’s license. Discrimination of mental health patients in New Zealand cuts across different racial, social, economic and cultural backgrounds. The impact of discrimination on mental health patients differs basing on their background. Elimination of discrimination stems first from an acknowledgment that discrimination exists.
In the case of mental health patients ender compulsory treatment orders, such recognition is problematic as the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 often subsumes provisions of civil rights of consumers. Mental health professionals usually think of their decisions and behavior towards consumers in terms of specialist knowledge of illness and the treatment required and not in the framework of human rights (Mental Health Commission, 1997). Such perception by health specialists towards mental health leads to discrimination against their patients.
The second part of the paper highlights mechanisms that the government use to deal wit discrimination in the health sector. One of the essential campaigns started to fight discrimination in the mental health sector is the ‘Like Minds, Like Mine’ program (2000). The program has continued to promote mental health, reduce stigma and discrimination among communities through media (Rosen, Goldmine & McGregor, 2010). The Policies that are for reducing the health inequalities of different population groups are a key principle of the New Zealand Health Strategy.
The Ministry of Health’s National Mental Health Standard demands all mental health service provider to encourage mental health and society acceptance of people affected by mental disorders and other mental health problems (Stevens, 2003). The contributions of the Not-for-profit organizations towards eradication of discrimination in mental health in New Zealand are well acknowledged. These organizations continue to play an important role in mental health sector by providing support to people who have mental health and addiction problems.
Such support enables them live a healthy life anywhere in the country. Nongovernmental organizations in mental health sector work with clinical Taft and government agencies to end stigma and discrimination towards people living with mental illness in society. Nongovernmental organizations working in New Zealand have gone as far as helping people living with mental illness get housing, work and education (Peters, 2010). In its conclusion, the essay will give a summary of issues under discussion and some recommendations on the way forward.
Analysis of Values, Size and Scope of Discrimination in Mental Health Sector Discrimination in mental health sector according to Hearth (2005) refers to a situation in which there exists “inequitable or unfair treatment of people with mental disorders, which amounts to denial of the rights and responsibilities that go with full citizenship” (p. 22). The term stigma is sometimes used interchangeably with the term discrimination. Coffman (1963) used the term stigma to refer to any condition that characteristically identified the bearer as culturally inferior with consequent feelings of guilt, shame, and disgrace in the society. Stigma’ has its origin in Greece. The term was used to refer to a scar left especially during branding of animals. An individual aces disapproval from members of the community due to his or her behavior that the society believes to be against their culture (Lubber, 2008). Report presented at the 18th Annual Conference on the Mental Health Services in Auckland New Zealand (2009) found that mental health patients who sort medical attention thought that the diagnosis will give hope and an opportunity for recovery.
Contrary to their expectations, the patients faced with stigma, discrimination and a change in their social relationships at home and work places as a result of the diagnosis. People with mental health disorder might also experience other health issues like substance abuse, being depressed and anxiety disorders. Such issues may lead to further exclusion of patients from the day-to-day activities of mainstream society. Discrimination of people with mental disorders is a cause and can also be the effect of exclusion from the day-to-day activities of the community (Ministry of Health, 2005).
It is not only people and private organizations that discriminate against people living with mental disorders. Other than these groups of people the government has also often discriminated against people living with mental illness. The government discrimination against people with mental illness by denying them some citizenship r ants like acquisition to property, right to vote, getting a drive or’s license and to have a family. There are also some aspects of the law that are discriminatory by placing restrictions on their legal right (World Health Organization, 2005).
Some of the outdated mental institutions still practice stigma and discrimination against consumers (Thornier, 2004). Such offer restrictions to patients instead of helping them through recovery. Mental illness can lead to what Coffman (1963) called self-stigma. This is where the person has internalized feelings of guilt, shame, inferiority and wish for secrecy (Stuart, 2005). Mental health patients can also be victims of themselves. El-Baddie & Mellows (2007) found in their study that mental health patients differed on such matters as what term should be used to refer to them.
Those that participated in the study could not come to a consensus on a single term among such terms as consumer, patient, client, survivor or recipient of mental health treatment that is appropriate to refer to them. Such results show that those with mental health disorders have not fully accepted their condition. This might translate to denial of the situation they are in so that they would not call it for what it is. The patient discrimination himself or herself by avoiding colonization with other members of the community.
The person with mental health disorders may fears Judgment from those around them. Mental health patients perceive and experience stigma and discrimination in a range of situations according to a study by El-Baddie & Mellows (2007). The study found out that people with mental health conditions face scarification in their workstations, in legal proceedings, when looking for health insurance coverage, renting apartments, in educational institutions and when looking for driver’s license. The study further reveals that some mental health patients could not access medical facilities.
Medical practitioners claim that persons with mental disorders do not have enough insurance cover to pay for their treatment. However, more than half of those sampled reported that their fellow employees and employers supported them when they learned of their conditions. People with mental illness are ore accepted and embraced in their social circles compared to people who might not know them well (El-Baddie and Mellows, 2007). This is because members of family, friends and co-workers understand them better and make sure that there is little disruption in the lives of the mental health consumer.
This is not to say that it is only the family members and work mate that concerned with the fight against discrimination of persons with mental illness. There are different people and groups involved with anti-discrimination actions, ranging from consumer run employment purport to national advertising initiatives; from work framed Pacific Island, Asian or Maori conceptions of mental health to the inclusion of anti discrimination principles require competencies of mental health professionals.
This further shows seriousness with which different communities, departments of government, private sector agencies and the mental health sector specialists view the fight against discrimination in the mental health sector. The Role of the State and Civil Society Any government given the mandate to rule has to ensure that the rights of its subjects are not compromised. No one should be discriminated upon on the grounds t physical usability or physical illness according to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.
Stigma and discrimination play a role in hindering the recovery of the mental health patients (Mall, 2000). The state is responsible for reduction of discrimination against mental health patients in work stations, in legal proceedings, when looking for health insurance coverage, renting apartments, in educational institutions and when looking for driver’s license. The role of the state and civil society are to help mental health patients to get access to all those services that they need to live a regular life. New Zealand first developed a policy in mental health sector in 1994.
The government put in place the Mental Health Strategy. The aim of the strategy was to bring mental health services to the people. It also signaled the Government’s commitment to developing community-based services. In addition to this strategy, the government has also established 21 District Health Boards (Dabs). The aims of Dabs are to plan on the best ways of delivering medical help to mental health patients in their areas of operation. They are also to find the medical needs of communities under their Jurisdictions (Ministry of Health, 2005).