Home' The Tribune : July 25th 2012 Contents 11
THE TRIBUNE, JULY 25, 2012
with Arthur Yeo
Palmerston North Ph 354 3211
JUST HELP THEM
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Fishing for Identity
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I have struggled as a Father to know
how best to raise my boys and grow
their self-esteem. I know from personal
experience that this is the very best gift
I can give to my boys as it underpins
any future success in any pursuit,
including developing strong, lifetime
In an increasingly feministic world,
particularly in New Zealand, where the
role of the father and the strong male
has been watered down it has become
imperative that we males take leadership
in helping our boys grow into strong
young men who are well balanced with
an excellent self esteem.
How do you do this?
On ANZAC weekend a bunch of
my mates and I had decided to go to
Lake Aniwhenua near Murapara for a
weekend of fly fishing.
We have fished together over the years
off and on and I was looking forward
to getting together with them again. I
asked my two young teenage boys to
come along with us and they reluctantly
I thought about what I could do to
maximise the benefit this trip would
have on my boys.
I wanted them to engage with the other
men so they were under instruction to
have at least three adult conversations
with the others each day.
The upshot of our time away was that
my mates really took a shine to my
boys and treated them with dignity and
engaged them in all aspects of the trip.
They lied to them about other fishing
conquests, a prerogative of aging
fisherman, asked them about their
dreams and futures, discussed politics
and, of course, women.
The lads felt very included and really
enjoyed their time away. It struck me
how important it is for men to get
together and pass on their life skills and
values while engaging in pursuits. The
pursuits themselves are not important.
They are only a conduit to put the men
together. The natural affinity men have
for each other and their reluctance to
talk in women's company meant that
the trip allowed the lads to open up and
The other thing it allowed my sons to
do was see how I relate to my mates
and how we accepted each other in a
naturally friendly, selfless, sharing way.
They could see through the good natured
ribbing that usually accompanies this
sort of activity, that we held each other
in high esteem.
I certainly plan to do this kind of thing
more often in the future. It made me feel
good as a father.
Disclosure of mental
illness still a problem
Some of the most talented
and creative people in New
Zealand have a lived experience
of mental distress.
To disclose or not disclose?
That is the question.
For many people with a
lived experience of mental dis-
tress, few issues vex the spirit
more than the question of whether
one should disclose one's past
experiences of being unwell.
For those who work in the men-
tal health sector and are well, dis-
closure could be seen as a plus.
Indeed they become role models
for others on the recovery journey.
But in other professional roles,
competent people with a lived
experience do not want to be
identified with their illness.
It does not define them; it is a
dimension of who they are, not
their entire personal reality.
However, if they were to become
unwell, because of an unexpected
life crisis, they might require
some accommodation in the work-
So to disclose or not disclose
places them on the horns of a
Recent research funded by the
Mental Health Foundation
provides a thoughtful response to
the question of whether one
should disclose or not.
This research was unique in
New Zealand because all parti-
cipants were already employed
before they were diagnosed.
This meant, of course, they had
already proven themselves as cap-
able and responsible employees.
This also meant they had over-
come personal and professional
obstacles in their journey to well-
ness, and yet this group of people
had been overlooked by research.
The results of the study, You
Don't Look Like One of Them: Dis-
closure of Mental Illness in the
Workplace as an Ongoing
Dilemma. were published in the
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Jour-
nal last year.
What did the research reveal?
Participants cited four signifi-
cant reasons for not disclosing
their lived experience of mental
distress -- even if they wanted to
do so in the name of respect for
human rights and the dignity of
First, the fear of discrimination
prevented people from disclosing
They feared "being stereotyped,
other people's reaction to their
disclosure and being subjugated to
Second, participants spoke of
legal pressures when they were
obliged to complete health-related
questions on application forms.
Third, they spoke of practical
pressures when they need time off
for appointments or other accom-
Fourth, participants experi-
enced moral pressure because
they believed disclosure was the
right thing to do.
Indeed overcoming self-stigma''
had been a hard-won achievement
Because disclosure is irrevers-
ible, and stigma and discrimi-
nation an unfortunate social
reality in the workplace, the
authors do not offer any conclus-
ive answers to the moral dilemma
of whether a prospective employee
should disclose their experience of
The decision to disclose remains
highly personal, mindful of poten-
Some of the most talented and
creative people in New Zealand
have a lived experience of mental
When unique and talented
people are permitted to flourish --
regardless of past experiences, we
all benefit. And, of course, the con-
verse is true.
When they are pushed aside
because of fear, stigma and dis-
crimination, we all miss out on
their contribution to society.
Remember Janet Frame had a
lived experience of mental dis-
Cloud of seed
Nature at its best: Hannah Welman has titled her photograph taken in Palmerston North Dandelion Sunset.
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