Stigma around mental ill health and applying for work

Saturday, 8 December 2018, 12:57 pm
Press Release: Green Party

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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