Most discriminatory behaviour has become such an unquestioned part of our daily lives that we don’t even recognise it as discriminatory. In our own lives there are many simple ways we can help to reduce discrimination towards people with experience of mental illness. These include:

  • Getting to know people, understanding who they are and what they stand for.  
  • Learning more about mental illness - did you know that most people who experience mental illness recover? Myths and inaccurate beliefs lead to discrimination. Is your knowledge accurate? Test your knowledge here!
  • Offering support to people when they are unwell whether they have a physical or mental health problem. You might like to see if you can drive someone to the doctors, take care of their kids for an afternoon or send them some flowers.
  • Making reasonable accommodations for employees, including those with experience of mental illness. This could include offering flexible working hours so people can go to appointments, or allowing people to work from home when needed.  For more information on how to support people in the workplace see www.mentalhealth.org.nz/openminds.
  • Using positive language to describe people with experience of mental illness. Talk about the person rather than describing them by a label e.g. Anna has bipolar disorder" or “Anna has a diagnosis of bipolar”, rather than "Anna is bipolar”. See more on language here. 
  • Including people with experience of mental illness in all areas of community life. This can be as simple as inviting someone to your annual street BBQ, or asking a colleague to join your indoor netball team
  • Not assuming you know how people with experience of mental illness are going to act. Mental illness doesn’t make people look or act in a way that will be noticed or perceived as unusual. People with mental illness do not look “crazy”, they look like – you, your cousin, your boss, or your neighbour. 
  • Valuing and respecting people’s decisions about their own wellbeing. Ask someone what they most need from you. Most people have an awareness about what works for them, and just because that may be different to what work for you does not mean it’s wrong. 

For more ideas on how you can take action to end mental illness discrimination see the 'take action' section on our home page