Promotion of Human Rights, Diversity and Anti-racism

Posted: August 19, 2016

 

Invoking social norms

Studies have shown that social norms are effective in promoting a change of attitude. A change of attitude is essential to build stronger relationships among different communities. Therefore, people from various ethnic communities can accord respect and socioeconomic opportunities to the immigrants and other minority groups. Anti-prejudice interventions involve informing people that their views on the immigrants or minority groups in the county are not consensually shared. Opposing racial discrimination against the immigrants publicly influences a change in attitude against racial discrimination, therefore, promoting health (Mathews & Wagenfeld, 1991).

Describing self and group identities

It is a common idea to reflect on one’s identity before addressing racial discrimination among the immigrant communities. In addressing racial discrimination as a strategy to improve health, it is imperative to be reflective on what it means to be from New Zealand. Assessment of one’s identity provides insights on both personal needs and those from other minority groups (Ginwright & Cammarota, 2012). In describing identity, this health promotion intervention identifies the privileges enjoyed by the majority ethnic group and how they should be evenly distributed to the other minority immigrant groups (Betancourt, Green, & Carillo, 2003).

Addressing institutional/structural racism 

Involving all the stakeholders in the fight against racial discrimination and health promotion is the key in alleviating institutionalized racial prejudice. Transforming and broadening the organizational and societal structures to accommodate all ethnic groups including the minority immigrants is a significant step towards creating sustainable health promotion goals (Came, 2014). One of the key methods for addressing institutionalized race-based discrimination is by increasing the accountability across organizations (Came, 2014). Accountable organizations have diverse strategies in handling the social norms as well as addressing inequality in the distribution of resource and power. By addressing the institutionalized racial prejudice, the minority immigrants will have a better access to health care services from quality healthcare centers and hospitals (Nairn, Pega, McCreanor, Rankine, & Barnes, 2006). Dealing with structural racial discrimination also increases access to quality education systems and, workplaces and other institutions with ease among the immigrants (Came, 2014).

Promoting Mental Health among Immigrants

Mental health problems and illnesses and patterns of behavior that are associated with suffering and mental distress and present clinically significant symptoms. Mental illnesses also create a vacuum that affects an individual’s ability to interact in the family, workplaces, schools and other social settings (Mathews & Wagenfeld, 1991). Mental health disorders affecting immigrants range from bipolar syndrome, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression (Hansson, Tuck, Lurie, & McKenzie, 2010). Research shows that mental illnesses among the immigrants are not caused by a single factor. Rather, they are as a result of interaction between social, economic, psychological and biological factors (Hansson, Tuck, Lurie, & McKenzie, 2010). Improvement of services for the minority immigrants in New Zealand among the racially discriminated groups is the foundation for promoting mental health among immigrants. Studies done among immigrants with mental disorders show that communicating to them in a friendly manner and setting promote their mental wellbeing. Besides, the use of meditation and neuron-linguistic programming methods (NLP) improves morale, positive thinking and self-esteem among mentally incapacitated immigrants. Promotion of activities that enhance active lifestyle also improves mental health among the immigrants. Psychosocial support is the most efficient way of alleviating mental ill health among the immigrants (Hansson, Tuck, Lurie, & McKenzie, 2010). Unemployment and other forms of discrimination among the immigrants based on race is a leading cause of mental distress among the immigrants in New Zealand. Social protection and prevention of the vulnerabilities facing the immigrant is useful in the prevention of mental illnesses among the minority ethnic communities being discriminated against based on race (Hansson, Tuck, Lurie, & McKenzie, 2010).

Studies on mental health among the immigrants have laid out several factors that are a leading cause of mental illnesses among the immigrants. If these factors are addressed, there is a high chance of promoting mental health among the ethnic communities who are at risk of developing the conditions due to racial prejudice. They include income and social status, education and literacy, physical environment, health services, employment and general working conditions, social environment, culture and personal health practices (Hansson, Tuck, Lurie, & McKenzie, 2010).

Policies Related to Immigrants (Social, health, and immigration)

            Policies related to immigration in New Zealand have a close relationship between economic conditions and immigration. Until the mid-1980s, policies on immigration only allowed immigrants from Britain and Pacific to provide labor (North, 2007). Regulation of immigration was directly related to the economic conditions in the country. The introduction of the points system in 1991 on immigration policies encouraged immigration of highly skilled labor from U.K and Europe into the country (North, 2007). Policies allowing immigration of highly qualified immigrants was a way improving productivity and boosting the country's economy. However, the boost in the country's economy has not been achieved as a result of the perceptions of immigrants in the country. Therefore, historical policies allowing only immigrants from the U.K have led to racial prejudice among towards the increasing number of Asian immigrants in New Zealand (North, 2007). According to the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand, the primary challenge many immigrants are facing in the country is unemployment despite being highly qualified. Employment policies on immigrants that require them to gain local work experience prior to employment in suitable positions lead to underemployment of most immigrants (North, 2007). Policies also require immigrants to undertake further studies on there are of specialization before employment opportunities are availed to them (North, 2007).  

            There are some of the government policies that have been introduced in order to facilitate the settlement and welfare of the immigrants in New Zealand.  For instance, the New Zealand government raised the English language competence from 5.0 to 6.5 for immigrants’ proficiency test for visa acquisition. Raising the proficiency test score is meant to regulate the number of immigrants into the country to improve the quality of life for a few immigrants (Raphael, Curry-Stevens, & Bryant, 2008). The government also needs to give more subsidies for healthcare services especially for immigrants most of whom live in deplorable conditions due to socioeconomic imbalance and prejudice. The New Zealand government has also introduced subsidized healthcare to citizens, and immigrants holding work visa that has a validity of two or more years. The eligible immigrants with children aged below 17 years also receive publicly funded healthcare.

Conclusion

            Mental health promotion and wellness have been among the most publicly debated topics in New Zealand. The government has been vocal in addressing the socio-economic deprivation that most immigrants face in the country. Spearheading program and putting up policies that promote the mental health among the immigrants is a critical step towards national integration. Social justice and human rights issues among the immigrants in New Zealand need to be addressed by working by working closely with immigrant families. Ensuring equality and fair treatment, as well as access to opportunities, will improve both their physiological and social health. Mental health issues and other post-migratory trauma, transition, and adjustment are significant challenges that need to be addressed.  Both the government and non-governmental organizations have a role in promoting the mental health among the immigrants by availing counseling services. In the reduction of racial discrimination among immigrants, the government also needs to build stronger social, economic and political institutions and regulate their conduct to protect the immigrants. Acculturation results into biculturalism, separation, assimilation and marginalization (Chung, Bemak, Ortiz, & Sandoval-Perez, 2008). If biculturalism is not promoted between the immigrants and the host country culture, marginalization could easily result due to lack of interaction between the different ethnic communities. Mental health problems are more common among the immigrants who are marginalized. However, biculturalism promotes the mental health (Chung, Bemak, Ortiz, & Sandoval-Perez, 2008). 

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