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Questions:

1.Mental health and well being has become a national 'issue' in the last decade with increasing political and media attention.  Are there significant links to be made between poor mental health and discrimination, inequality and cultural disadvantage? Give examples and evidence to support your claim.
 
2. Is Australia an egalitarian society? Your discussion should include examples from at least two of the following areas: Indigenous rights, gender equality, work/life balance and sexualities. 
 
3.Every community consists of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ and the Australian community is no different.  Discuss with examples.
 
 

Answers:

1.Mental health illness can be defined as the condition that has the capacity to affect the ways a person thinks, feels and manages his moods. Such conditions have the capability to affect the ability of someone to relate to others and function successfully in everyday activities. Researchers are of the opinion that besides genetic, environmental as well as lifestyle issues that may result in development of poor health in individuals, a stressful job, home-life or personal relationships also have the ability to disrupt the mental stability (The Conversation 2018). Traumatic life events like being a victim of a crime as well as biochemical processes and circuits that affect the basic brain structure also play effective roles. However, mental health issues which are declared by WHO to be one of the major types of situation that can be easily handled through proper treatment, they are still not understood by society in a clear manner (Morgan et al. 2016). The age-old tradition of stigmatization and discrimination is still whole-heartedly followed by many societies of the nation that provide a very difficult time for the persons who are affected by it (www.beyondblue.org.au, 2018). Even in the age of modern scientific advantages when healthcare science has clearly explained mental health issues to be as common disorder as a physical or physiological issue, people still discriminate such mental health disorder. For example, there had been evidences when the societies are seen to exclude people with mental illness with more references being done in employment centers and organizations.

 


Workers with mental health conditions are discriminated and not allowed to participate properly in all sphere of work as they think that they are no longer able to handle serious issues successfully. Moreover, in schools, community gatherings, family functions and many others, such behaviors are noted. Social exclusion and lack of support from the members make the patients unhappy and depressed. Stigmatization by the society impresses a feeling of inequality where the mental health patients are considered to fail to work with equal stamina and confidence with like the mentally stable people. Discrimination, stigmatization, inequality and social exclusion are not the only aspects that remain associated with mental health but also become causes of the mental health issues (Thornicroft et al. 2016). Many of the people of low socioeconomic background, immigrants, and people from different cultural backgrounds also face inequality, discrimination and stigmatization that make them develop mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, panic disorders and many others. Therefore, in both ways, discrimination, inequality and cultural disadvantages are intricately associated with mental health issues. These make the patients conceal their disorders and they avoid taking help from healthcare centers or support from friends and families with fear of being stereotyped. This mainly result in enhancing the symptoms making them suffer from poor quality life. The fear of social exclusion, discrimination and stigmatization not only from society but also from healthcare professionals prevent them from getting access to healthcare. These can be described with an example. Aboriginals who are the native people of the nation prevent themselves from getting access to mental health care from the western professionals (Buchanan et al. 2017). They fear of discrimination and cultural stigmatization from the professionals make the native people avoids getting access to healthcare. Moreover, they also feel that the professionals are not culturally competent to care for them and look down on them due to their cultural traditions and preferences. The issue of inequality, discrimination and stigmatization play huge role in preventing mentally ill native patients to get proper care. These make them lead poor quality lives. Feelings of shame, bullying, harassment, physical violence, self-doubt about their own ability, fewer opportunities for social interaction and employment and many others become the effect of such aspects on mental ill patients in the society.

 


2.An Egalitarian society can be defined as the society where individuals of the society are treated with equality irrespective of their wealth status society. Such a community would be mainly practicing gender equality, human rights, communism, rights of women and many others. The poor in this society are treated with dignity and all forms of discrimination are discouraged by the society. Australia is a believer of this principle and had been trying hard to achieve the status by inculcating such values and ideals in their governing system of the nation. In many aspects like in case of Australian language or even in education system of the nation, the principles are followed. The same English is spoken to honorable persons to that of even people belonging to low socioeconomic classes without any alterations. Moreover, a teacher is seen to provide equal care and education to all students irrespective of their cultural backgrounds and economic stability. However, there are many areas where the principles of egalitarian society cannot be adopted even after severe tries.  A huge gap in the health status is still observed in the nation between the aboriginals and the non-native people and therefore in the year 2008, the government had made a formal commitment to address such gaps with the “closing the gap” initiative. However, the program has still not able to reach its goals as inequality in life expectancy and health status had been still found between the native and non natives as shorter life expectancy, poorer health, higher rates of infant mortality as well as lower levels of education as well as employment (Personal stories, 1997). Although some improvements are made but researchers suggest that they need to go a long way and therefore again in the year 2017, the government was put under pressure to add targets in different of the areas in lowering Indigenous imprisonment rates, community and family violence and child removals. Higher rate of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the natives and lower the level of life expectancy had been observed. In 2016, native children are seen to suffer from 1.6 times more higher levels of malnutrition than non-natives do (Manne 1998). The rate of circulatory disorders and kidney disorders were twice and 11 times respectively in the natives than the non-natives showing health gap on the chronic ailments and rates of hospitalization. Mental health issues, suicide and self-harm are also higher. Lower opportunities of education and employment are also seen in the native people.

 


Such issues really question about the egalitarian nature of the nation and how successfully it can hold onto it aura. The acts of Sex Discrimination act as well as the international human right obligations are vowed to be strictly followed by the nation but still gender inequality and discrimination are quite common in the nation. Women and girls are mainly seen to make up over just 50.7 per cent of the population. While women who work are comprising of the 47 per cent of the employees in Australia, it is seen that they are able to take home only around average $251.20 less in comparison to that earned by men every week (DeVaus 2009). The national gender pay gap is mainly seen to be about 5.3 percent and an interesting observation is that it has remained stuck between 15 and 19% for the past two decades. The decision of the Australian industries into male and female dominated industries decreases the scope of women to practice in all domains like that of aged care, childcare and community services that are women dominated are mainly undervalued. About half of women above 18 years have experiences sexual harassment at workplace (Peacock, William and skinner 2012). Moreover, one in every three women faces sexual violence in the lifetime. All these describe the gender inequality issues thereby hampering the aura of egalitarian society of Australia.

3.The communities in Australia is mainly diverse in nature as the past decade has shown huge influx of people from different parts of the world. With the increase of job opportunities, the nation has attracted people from all over the world and globalization has added more significance to it. With the organizations providing more importance to multiculturism and diverse teamwork to develop innovation and creativity in work, the nation is now seen to be booming with people from different nations with different cultural backgrounds (The guardian 2016). Therefore the different communities in Australia is now comprising of mixed cultures although the non-natives are seen to dominate followed by immigrants. In spite of the growth of the opportunities of the “outsiders” to work in the organizations, the nature of the communities comprising of more number of the “insiders” than the “outsiders” are seen to be highly dominant.  A report by the Guardian published in the nation had shown discrimination which is experienced by 775 of the African born in South Sudan, 75% people from Zimbabwe, 60% from Ethiopia, 67% from Kenya as well as 53% from Egypt. South African farmers are seen to face terrible violence as a dorm of discrimination although the immigration policy of the nation is seen to be non-discriminatory. Sydney morning herald had reported a data put forward by the Scanlon Foundation through the latest Mapping Social Cohesion survey (Thornicroft et al., 2016). It had stated that 19 percent of the Australians were seen to be discriminated because of their skin color, religious beliefs as well as ethnic origin. Therefore, racism formed the main basis of the division of “outsiders” and “insiders” in the community. The communities also discriminate based on the religious background of the people. Reports have suggested that there has been strong negative feeling of the insiders towards the Muslim outsiders.

 


The Muslim women are seen to be having 505 more experiences than the discrimination faced by the Muslim men of the communities. Studies have stated “The majority of Australians support the immigration program. Some 56% are supportive of the current intake or consider that it could be increased. However, when asked what they least like about Australia, 18% of people born in Australia indicated there was too much immigration,” From the very beginning, the Australian nation had been the communities that had officially adopted the policy of multiculturism. They state that they provide the rights to all people with citizenship to enjoy rights for the members of the society for expressing their cultural identity and heritage within the limits of the law. However, racism is seen to persist in each of the Australian communities (Clement et al. 2015). About 20% of the people had experienced religious discrimination within past 12 months, racism is faced by 34% of the non-English speaking people of the communities and the data continues. Therefore, it becomes important for the government, the politicians as well as the media professionals and policy makers to undertake strict rules and initiatives by which the distinction between the outsiders and insiders can be reduced and Australia becomes successful in maintaining human rights successfully.

 

References:

Buchanan, Z.E., Abu-Rayya, H.M., Kashima, E., Paxton, S.J. and Sam, D.L., 2017. Perceived discrimination, language proficiencies, and adaptation: Comparisons between refugee and non-refugee immigrant youth in Australia. International Journal of Intercultural Relations.

Clement, S., Schauman, O., Graham, T., Maggioni, F., Evans-Lacko, S., Bezborodovs, N., Morgan, C., Rüsch, N., Brown, J.S.L. and Thornicroft, G., 2015. What is the impact of mental health-related stigma on help-seeking? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Psychological medicine, 45(1), pp.11-27.

de Vaus, D. ‘Balancing Family Work and Paid Work: Gender-based Equality in the New Democratic Family.’ Journal of Family Studies. Vol. 15 (2). (August 2009): 118-121.

Manne, R. ‘The Stolen Generations.’ Quadrant (January-February 1998): 53-63.

Morgan, A.J., Reavley, N.J., Jorm, A.F. and Beatson, R., 2016. Experiences of discrimination and positive treatment from health professionals: a national survey of adults with mental health problems. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 50(8), pp.754-762.

'Personal Stories' from: Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families [Commissioner: Ronald Wilson]. Canberra: Australian Government Printer, 1997.

Pocock, B., Williams, P. & Skinner, N. ‘Set Your Alarm Clock Early’. Time Bomb: Work, Rest and Play in Australia Today. Sydney, N.S.W.: NewSouth, 2012. 1-25.

Smith, E., Jones, T., Ward, R., Dixon, J., Mitchell, A. and Hillier, L., 2014. From blues to rainbows: The mental health and well-being of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia.

The Conversation. (2018). Improving Aboriginal health and well-being: a view from the north. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/improving-aboriginal-health-and-well-being-a-view-from-the-north-18522 [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

The Guardian, 2016, African migrants in Australia report worst discrimination, diversity study reveals,  available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/african-migrants-australia-report-worst-discrimination-scanlon-report (accessed om 21st june, 2018)

Thornicroft, G., Mehta, N., Clement, S., Evans-Lacko, S., Doherty, M., Rose, D., Koschorke, M., Shidhaye, R., O'Reilly, C. and Henderson, C., 2016. Evidence for effective interventions to reduce mental-health-related stigma and discrimination. The Lancet, 387(10023), pp.1123-1132.

www.beyondblue.org.au. (2018). Beyond blue. [online] Available at: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/signs-and-symptoms/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10. [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018]

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