The Consultation Forum was held on 12 June 2013 at Nathan Homestead in Manurewa and was attended by 23 people from different parts of Auckland.
Changing Minds facilitated a discussion about four main questions:
- Is stigma and discrimination still something we face in our lives?
- If so, then where do we encounter stigma and discrimination?How effective do we think Like Minds Like Mine is in countering that stigma and discrimination and raising awareness of mental health issues and experiences?
- Should addiction be included in the Like Minds Like Mine programme?
- What would we like Like Minds Like Mine to do differently in the future?
The discussion began with an introduction to the Like Minds Like Mine (LMLM) programme, asking whether people had heard of it, how familiar are with with their campaigns and events etc. Almost everyone in the room had heard of LMLM and we generally agreed that their visibility was good.
People mentioned the ads on TV, the LMLM newsletter, and last year’s event “The Big Rethink,” as examples of visible LMLM health promotion.
We then asked about whether stigma and discrimination continue to be an issue for us, as people with experiences of mental health/illness and addiction. The resounding anwer was yes, this is a pressing and ongoing battle.
Where do we face this stigma and discrimination?
The following are loosely ranked in order of importance:
- Work and Income NZ (WINZ).
- With doctors and clinicians.
- At Mental Health Services.
- At work, with workmates and also potential employers.
- With police.
- In the workforce of Mental Health (MH) Services and Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) services. (For example, a peer support worker is less valued than a clinician. Lived experience is not valued as highly as clinical knowledge and in some cases is actively devalued.)
- In the media.
- On the emergency phonelines.
- With CAT Teams (emergency mental health services).
- With family and friends.
The next question was, how effective is LMLM in countering stigma and discrimination? One of the first observations was that it is difficult to access LMLM. For example, people did not know how to sign up to the newsletter. People were also unsure how to contact the LMLM team if they had a question about it, or wanted to ask if that team would come along to an event or collaborate on a project.
There was some frustration about the difficulty of working out who to contact, whether it would be the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) or LMLM as a separate but related entity. It was noted that the MHF website lists the LMLM staff but does not link clearly to the LMLM website or faciltate access to the programme. There was a request for more transparency about the relationship between MHF and LMLM.
Some people felt that the LMLM campaigns, particularly in the media, had been quite effective. The John Kirwan campaign was an example, though people were also quick to point out that this has been rather overused.
There were questions about whether the resource alotted to LMLM was being used in the most effective way. This led to a discussion about whether media campaigns on TV were the best use of resource, given how expensive they must be. There was also a question about whether some of the resource for LMLM should be used to counter stigma and discrimation against people who experience addiction.
So the next question was: Should LMLM include addiction?
For most people, the short answer was yes. The longer answer raised concerns about how this would happen. Some people said no, it should not be included, because it would bring up other legal issues about substance abuse.
For those who said yes, their concerns were primarily about how this inclusion would occur. For example, it would be necessary to employ people who understand the landscape of addiction, rather than expect people who understand mental health to also be able to target addiction issues. For effective health promotion, people with addictions should be involved in the LMLM programme.
It was also noted that MH and AOD life experiences were different, so it would be necessary to tailor campaigns to suit either MH or AOD.
When we asked if people with addictions face stigma and discrimination, the answer was clearly yes, and someone gave the example of people being “mad or bad.” Being “mad” is about mental health. Being “bad” is about experiencing addiction. There is a lot of judgment about people with addictions, as it is often framed more as a personal choice than MH issues are.
Self-stigma is a particularly pressing issue in relation to addiction, and should be addressed, whether it is part of LMLM or another programmme.
The final question: What would we like to see LMLM do differently in the future?
Based on the previous discussion about where we face discrimination and stigma, we felt that the LMLM campaigns need to focus more on those areas, particularly things like WINZ and MH services. More training and workshops need to be available to people working at WINZ and MH services.