In a society that still stigmatises those with mental health disorders, can an individual sufferer live a full life without discrimination. I take a look at two types of discrimination I see everyday here in New Zealand.

Societal Discrimination

Walking into the psychiatric hospital you often get the feeling that the staff see you as being weak and not a full person. Receiving your medications at the pharmacy, do the staff see the medication and think “Here’s another crazy”. Breaking news on the television usually claims any killers to have a mental disorder. It’s no surprise that the general public don’t feel at ease with someone who suffers from a mental illness. How can we fit into society, how can we live a normal life when everywhere around us people discriminate.

Employment Discrimination

When an individual applies for a job, putting a mental illness on their resume is a sure way to get a prospective employer to turn your application down. Now we are all aware that there are laws in place to prevent this, the fact of the matter its still happening. I have witnessed it in a variety of application forms where they ask you if you have a mental illness. By acknowledging you have an illness could mean you’re instantly at a disadvantage, as some employers are saying that you cannot perform your job safely or you could become a risk. Now when did this mentality from employers become non-discriminatory. Apparently, if you have bipolar you cannot join the Department of Corrections as a Prison Officer due to the “added stress” of the role. Is this to say they exclude ev everybody with a mental illness, is this fair. Well apparently it is. I have also checked and this applies to military and police careers.

With such discrimination still evident in our society can I still live a normal life, and hold a normal job. Only time will tell. I am currently unemployed and still under the close care of a psychiatrist. I have applied for a number of jobs and anticipate to see what replies I get.

Useful Links

Returning To Work (After a Mental Health episode)

Employers Legal Responsibilities  

Employment Law NZ