Home Communities › Sonia Gray

Sonia Gray

240913MHFSONIA124ret2

Fighting the good fight

With twin four-year-olds and a busy work schedule to contend with, Lotto presenter Sonia Gray is usually more suited to calming disputes than creating them.

But as the well-known television personality found out earlier this year, some things in life are worth fighting for. Sonia, who has personal experience of depression and anxiety, decided to speak out about the discrimination she faced when applying for life insurance. The mum-of-two told a newspaper how an insurance company had denied her the rate offered to her husband because of her history of mental illness. 

“I got a letter saying ‘unfortunately you have been declined’. A lot of people would just have accepted that, but I didn’t.” 

The letter Sonia received, which said she would have to pay an additional premium to get the same insurance coverage as her husband, came as a complete surprise. “I was so shocked by it. I’m not usually a fighter with these things, but I thought it was so unfair. It was discrimination.” 

When a representative from the insurance company phoned her, Sonia told her the rate that had been proposed was unacceptable and arranged for the original terms to be reinstated. “I told her I was really upset by the letter. They said people with depression have a higher risk of heart disease, but there is no New Zealand evidence of that. You go for treatment and things work out, so you shouldn’t be treated any different to anyone else.” 

Sonia, who featured in a Like Minds, Like Mine campaign back in 2000, decided to discuss the insurance issue publicly because she wanted to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with experience of mental illness. “I don’t know whether anything has changed with the insurance because the rules seem really arbitrary. There must be so many people who have had this issue. While in my case, I’m financially okay, what if you were depressed and money was tight? It just felt like they were squeezing more money out of people.” 

Motivation to keep well 

Sonia’s experience with depression and anxiety has spanned over 10 years, but she’s committed to keeping well. 

During Mental Health Awareness Week, she served as a Mental Health Foundation (MHF) Ambassador and helped promote the theme of Connect. 

Some of her personal strategies for keeping well include using a meditation app on her mobile, working out at the gym and taking time out to catch up with girlfriends. “I still take medication and I have to maintain certain things every day to keep mentally healthy. I try really hard to do mindfulness – it’s thinking about what’s happening in your body.” 

Sonia says one of the “silver linings” of experiencing mental distress is you become “much more attuned with where you’re at”, physically and emotionally. “Even when I was really low, I knew I had to drag my butt out to exercise. It’s really important to me because it’s that self-reward and knowledge that I’ve done something positive. I’ve also become good at listening to how I talk to myself and identifying what’s not helpful or correct.”

 Through her role as Ambassador for the MHF, she has become an advocate of the Five Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Keep Learning, Be Active, Take Notice and Give – and would like to see more New Zealanders using them in their daily lives. “The Five Ways are so simple and yet so effective,”

Sonia says. “I’ve been really public about my own issues and I’ve been involved with various aspects of mental health [promotion] in the past.

I want people to know they’re not the only ones going through it.” 

Good reads

LM P1 Mailchip

Editorial

Take the Load Off

We are very pleased to introduce Take the Load Off, our new... Read more

Martha Kim 1

Sae Woom Tor Charitable Trust

Martha Kim

Martha Kim, chairperson of New Zealand-based Korean mental health and addiction awareness... Read more

Community pexels photo 325521

Editorial

Five ways to reduce discrimination

Mental illness discrimination has a long, pervasive history.  Many widely held negative... Read more

Farmer

Farmers under pressure

Rural stress

A war is raging in the quiet backwaters of rural New Zealand.... Read more

october04

Interacting with people in mental distress

Kites Trust

What you do as a police officer makes a difference. That is... Read more

240913MHFSONIA124ret

Fighting the good fight

Sonia Gray

With twin four-year-olds and a busy work schedule to contend with, Lotto... Read more

Torika Watters2

Beauty queen speaks out

Torika Watters

Fijian Torika Watters was just 12 years old when her father, Allan... Read more

Zeal Andrew 2

Student led initiative a growing success

Andrew Sutherland

Andrew Sutherland is working on a special project to reduce discrimination towards... Read more

Tabby Besley

Anti-discrimination advocate royally acknowledged

Tabby Besley

Tabby Besley is at the forefront of young people trying to change... Read more

IMG 1593

Editorial

Young People Tackle Discrimination Through Art

A new Like Minds, Like Mine project, POD, is helping young people... Read more

sarah

App Helps Young People In Distress

Sarah Moktar

Sarah Moktar has developed an app to help people to understand what... Read more

tommy an dmani

An interface between mental health and identity

Intersex Trust Aotearoa

People who identify as LGBTI are more likely to be discriminated against... Read more

GreenBayEvent image 2

High school students challenge discrimination

Melissa Bridle

Melissa Bridle, from 24-7 YouthWork, wasn’t sure what to expect when she... Read more

Taimi Presenting 1

reThiNK-ing youth resources

Taimi Allan

Based in Auckland, Taimi Allan is responsible for Mind & Body’s reThiNK... Read more

Margaret POD

Tending the POD

Margaret Lockhart

Margaret Lockhart couldn’t be happier. As the Mental Health Foundation’s project lead... Read more

Susanne image 1

Pacific models create non-discriminatory environments

Susanne Cummings

Susanne Cummings’ journey started almost 20 years ago when she lived through... Read more

banneroctober

Editorial

Human rights at the core of Step Forward

In 1997 Like Minds, Like Mine had the distinction of being one... Read more

Stephen Jason combo

Positive Energy participants speak out

Stephen and Jason

Speaking openly about an experience of mental illness can be a scary... Read more

Cover image Issue 47

Mental distress on campus

Erin Harrington

The years spent in tertiary study are supposed to be some of... Read more

walkamile2

Research

Walk a mile in our shoes

Exploring Discrimination Within and Towards Families and Whānau of People Diagnosed with ‘Mental... Read more

pacific mhf 6x4

Reducing stigma in Pacific communities

Evangelene Daniela

Combining cognitive behaviour therapy with cultural traditions is a “little bit on... Read more

Rangi Ruru hi res

Using drama to understand mental illness

Rangi Ruru Girls’ School

Year 13 drama students from Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, Christchurch, put themselves... Read more

Jarno Noordermeer image6x4 NST credit

Blogging to reduce stigma and discrimination

Jarno Noordermeer

Sharing the stories of people who have experienced mental illness is a... Read more

Stories of Success cover 6x4

Research

Social inclusion, the key to recovery

Stories of Success is the latest publication the Like Minds, Like Mine... Read more

Stephanie Shen crop

Youth voice reaches United Nations

Stephanie Shen

Until recently, Pakuranga College student, Stephanie Shen, had never experienced mental... Read more