Mental Health and Wellbeing

The

neurodiversity movement

is here

Connecting the dots

Given the benefits of understanding and employing neurodiverse talent already seen in markets and sectors around the world, it is time for New Zealand to begin its own journey toward equity for neurodiversity and inclusion.

These are arenas DivergenThinking will be focussing on to bring about this change:

READ MORE…  

 

Government

DivergenThinking are experts ready to advise and support government in the development and implementation of neurodiversity policy, legislation and public inclusion. As is evident internationally, government plays a key role in leading and promoting the neurodiversity inclusiveness and belonging agenda.

Given that as many 40% of New Zealanders have strong neurodiverse traits, ignorance is no longer an excuse for the discrimination and stigma that currently goes hand in hand with it. Discrimination and stigma create anxiety, which often leads to depression and far too often suicidal ideation. Sadly that is all to common for those with strong neurodiverse traits and often starts from the age of eight years old. What does that tell you about our schooling system?

The Mental Health & Wellbeing concerns here are obvious. It is important to note that not only are those with strong neurodiverse traits affected but their family and friends as well, therefore impacting approximately 80% of the total population.

Yet when we look at the leaders of entrepreneurship, innovation and change we see the likes of Richard Branson, Temple Grandin, Elbert Einstein…

We have heard loud and clear why age, gender and nationality are important. Neurodiversity sits across all of these, it does not discriminate.

People with strong neurodiverse traits are changing the world. Tapping into this incredible resource is critical. If we recognise and embrace this we would increase the meaningful engagement of an exceptionally large portion of our population and, in the process, significantly impact the mental health and wellbeing of our nation.

 

KEY OPPORTUNITY

Billions of dollars are already committed in this country to ‘fixing’ our appalling mental health and wellbeing. Neurodiversity policies and practices must be part of this aspect of the ‘wellbeing’ economy.

 

Corporate & Business

The goal needs to be crystal clear – it’s about solving a problem. Increased organisational performance + enhancing our communities + public well-being.

Creating equity for all New Zealanders is paramount in building more engaged, productive and innovative individuals and organisations in New Zealand. In the productivity stakes alone, tapping into this wealth of talent will result in major gains. Many of the 21st century’s most successful companies have been – and are – led by neurodiverse individuals. And they actively recruit neurodiverse individuals. There is no doubt that as a country New Zealand is behind in this space.

The challenge for New Zealand businesses is to embrace neurodiversity in their Diversity & Inclusion strategies. We often hear ‘Oh we are focusing on age and gender at the moment’. How inclusive is that? If we challenge this space we will see longer term:

• reductions in anxiety and depression
• reductions in incidences of bullying
• reductions in our suicide rates
• improvements in employment opportunities of those with stronger neurodiverse traits
• improvements in the overall quality of our mental health and wellbeing

How do we do that? 

DivergenThinking is here to help organisations develop and build:

• Good Practice standards and guidance supporting the employment of everyone (we are all neurodiverse) through recruitment, onboarding and retention strategies and helping create ‘truly’ psychologically safe environments in which individuals and organisations can flourish.

• Frameworks and guidance for diversity and inclusion strategies and policies, tools and templates to suit your organisational needs.

• Core Indicators – Diversity and inclusion is most effective when it is made a core indicator of workplace performance, i.e. an integral positive goal as opposed to negative risk management or a litigation avoidance approach.

• Concrete guidance for the more practical day to day issues organisations may be challenged by when considering the recruitment of and/or leading individuals with strong neurodiverse traits.

• Environmental Accommodations – Adjustments can be easily made in workplace environments and have an immediate impact on the welfare and performance of all employees. We use the principals of Universal Design for the creation of accessible and inclusive workspaces and cultures.

If you are a leading, future-focussed business with an innovative and pioneering spirit, join DivergenThinking in leading the movement. We will help you take advantage of the transformational opportunities that will shape the future of business in New Zealand.

It’s worth noting that DivergenThinking’s Getting GOT neurodiversity programmes are not just for those with strong neurodiverse traits i.e., autism, ADHD, dyslexia etc… remember everyone’s brain is wired differently so they’re for every person in all organisations. If you don’t think you have neurodiverse employees in your organisation, think again. Given that as many 40% of New Zealanders have strong neurodiverse traits, you are likely to have as many as 40% in your business too.

 

KEY OPPORTUNITY

New Zealand has problems with productivity. Significant resources have been unleashed to help get more out of the economy. The statistics of success in developing a ‘neurodiverse’ approach to this essential indicator is a ‘no brainer’. Similarly, the incidence of workplace bullying continues to be a major challenge and problem, understanding how everyone’s brain are wired differently and everybody comes with the best intentions will significantly decreases conflict, judgment and bullying. Any opportunity to alleviate this has to be worth the time, effort and investment.

 

Recruitment

Recruiters play a critical role in linking talent and skills with organisations who need it. Our neurodiverse workforce is an invaluable untapped resource that is waiting to be utilised.

It has been estimated that up to 80% of our potential neurodiverse workforce are either unemployed or under employed

All the while New Zealand businesses are crying out for skills and talent. We regularly hear recruiters telling us they need to go internationally to find great talent. Others have shared ‘we have employed autistic individuals and they are phenomenal however they don’t fit our culture’…. Yet they need their skills… So how inclusive is this? Sounds a lot like the industrial days, turn up, do your job and go home?

We challenge you – there is a lot of great talent in this country. You often just don’t know what you are looking for or recognise it when it’s sitting in front of you. You’re confronted with difference.

We appreciate difference initially feels uncomfortable when there is a gap in understanding.

We challenge you to learn how the brain is wired and why certain brain profiles work best in certain roles. Once you learn about our quadrants (Top right, Top left, Bottom right, Bottom left), it’s really very simple.

 

KEY OPPORTUNITY

Current recruitment practices in New Zealand don’t cater for a neurodiverse workforce. By increasing their understanding and evolving their practices to be neurodiversity inclusive, a world of opportunity opens up for individuals, organisations and recruiters themselves.

 

Education

For many of us, school plays an important role in how we view ourselves and the world around us. With around 40% of New Zealanders displaying strong neurodiverse traits, it is vitally important our schools evolve to actively engage our neurodiverse young. Not ‘handle’ them, ‘manage’ or isolate them but truly engage and educate them. 

For many of us, school plays an important role in how we view ourselves and the world around us. With approximately 40% of New Zealanders having strong neurodiverse traits, it is vitally important our schools evolve to build truly inclusive environments to actively engage our neurodiverse young. Not ‘handle’ them, ‘manage’ or isolate them but truly learn how they think and why they do what they do so we can engage and educate them – don’t forget they will be some of our inspirational leaders of the future.

This is going to require a huge shift in thinking for many; yet there are already individuals and groups laying the foundations for meaningful change. These are the types of people and initiatives DivergenThinking will be supporting, promoting and advocating for.

Traditional thinking in education would see schools, teacher and peers viewing neurodiverse learners as being purposely ‘naughty’ and needing ‘management’. Again the challenge for New Zealand is to influence the way our schools embrace neurodiversity. When we do this successfully we are likely to see longer term:

• reductions in anxiety
• reductions in incidences of bullying
• reductions in our suicide rates
• reductions in the number of neurodiverse individuals in prison therefore
• improvements in school completion rates
• improvements in the uptake of further education
• improvements in employment opportunities of those with stronger neurodiverse traits
• improvements in the overall quality of our mental health and wellbeing

 

KEY OPPORTUNITY

Youth anxiety, depression, suicide and the effects of bullying are some of the fall out aspects of ignorance, intolerance and lack of acceptance of people who are different – this needs to change.

 

Community

We are all part of a community. Normalising neurodiversity benefits all of us. And we all have a part to play. It starts with awareness, education, a willingness to share our stories, a willingness to listen and the strength to change.

 

KEY OPPORTUNITY

International and local initiatives toward creating awareness and acceptance of ‘diversity’. Creating belonging in other sectors has resulted in large scale and ‘cool’ change.

Like to help?

We are always on the look out for other ways we can spread our message. If you think you can help, please get in touch.