Will history of depression and suicide stop me getting into nursing?

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andbeyond
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Hi,

I'm considering getting into nursing and I'm wondering if having a history of depression and counselling along with a suicide attempt stop me from getting into nursing? This is definitely on my medical records so not just up to me to disclose.
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opalescent
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The short answer is no. It's illegal to discriminate against people on grounds of any illness or disability, mental or physical.

Depression is one of the most common of all mental health difficulties and I would be very surprised if you were the only person on your course to have suffered from it in the past. It's best to be honest about your past difficulties and your current needs, as your university will want to be sure that you're currently OK and well supported, for your own sake as well as for the sake of your patients.

I wouldn't make a big deal of it on your form, but in your position I would be thinking of how you can turn it into a plus - for example, if necessary you could talk about how you have learned how to recognise your limits and to ask for help when you need it (good skills for a nurse!) and developed empathy with people who are in a lot of distress. Think about what you have learned from those experiences and how they could help you as a nurse.

Like all future nurses, you will need to have an occupational health assessment. Nursing is a stressful course. The OH assessor isn't there to catch you out or judge you unsuitable for nursing - he or she will be looking for ways to support you on the course and to help you succeed. Be honest with them so that they can work out what you're likely to need - if you're prone to feeling lonely or overwhelmed, for example, maybe a mentor from the disability support service should meet with you weekly so you always have a friendly person unrelated to your studies to 'check in' with. Don't try to gloss over any problems you have. Asking for help you're likely to need is a sign of responsibility, not something that will get you thrown off the course - nursing is a responsible profession after all.

Finally, I know at least four people who went into nursing with a background of mental health difficulties. Their course staff and later their employers have been very supportive. Don't worry. Just focus on getting as much experience as you can and nailing your grades.
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andbeyond
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thank you so much for your comprehensive reply, opalescent. It's made me feel reassured and positive. It's good to know that i won't be automatically excluded because of it.
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grt
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I cannot say anything about nursing, but for doctors it's kind of a career-breaker if you're formally linked to depression. Too much stigma still exists - which is quite ironic considering that probably a significant two-digit percentage of hospital doctors do suffer from depression in one way or another...

At least in theory I see the point the above poster made. If you "evidently" passed that stage in your life, you might be able to sell it as an additional insight. Also, as far as I'm aware, well-qualified nurses are always in high demand, so if you're doing well, you might be fine. However, I also stress the fact that nursing is one of the most stressful jobs out there. Don't take it too lightly.
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opalescent
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Stigma and prejudice about mental ill health (or disability generally) is a big problem everywhere - I am disabled, and I've experienced it myself. In addition to the disability I was born with I also have a history of mental illness (eating disorders and anxiety) that I'm very careful about disclosing. It doesn't really affect me now so I have no reason to talk about it, but I think deliberately hiding disability or illness is even more detrimental than the stigma, as it stops you from getting help, and in the end it just perpetuates the prejudice if you treat it as if it's something to be ashamed of.

I think in recent years the medical profession has been making a better effort to address the mental health needs of doctors. A while ago I read a very moving article in the British Medical Journal by a doctor (a psychiatrist, no less) who suffers from psychotic depression herself and has actually been a patient in the hospital where she now works. There is also the Doctors' Support Network, which was founded by doctors with mental health problems. Attitudes within the profession are changing, slowly, and there are reasons to be hopeful.

For anyone who is considering going into healthcare and who has a mental health difficulty, I suggest looking at the Time to Change campaign. It's an anti-stigma campaign and it's not perfect (I think their attitude to mental distress can be a bit too medicalised at times) but it's done a lot of work to challenge discrimination and get people thinking more positively about mental health. They always need volunteers, which would count as relevant experience for a lot of healthcare and medicine courses, and is perhaps a good way for people who don't feel too confident about their mental health history to get the better of worries over what people might think of them.

There used to be a brilliant blog by an adult/general nurse with quite severe mental health problems, but she shut it down. I wish it was still up so that I could link you to it - she blogged through all sorts of things and gave a real insight into how she coped with her illness while being a nurse on a busy ward. Her colleagues seemed brilliantly supportive of her. Here is another favourite blog of mine, by a former mental health nursing student who has bipolar disorder (her story is less positive as she was not well-supported on nursing placement, and eventually left). There is no guarantee of success in nursing with a history of mental illness, but there's no guarantee of success in nursing anyway; plenty of people without any medical problems drop out for one reason or another. All you can do is what everybody should do - test out whether it's for you through some voluntary work or shadowing, get your grades, and then give it your best shot. Best of luck with everything.
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salmon92
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(Original post by opalescent)
Stigma and prejudice about mental ill health (or disability generally) is a big problem everywhere - I am disabled, and I've experienced it myself. In addition to the disability I was born with I also have a history of mental illness (eating disorders and anxiety) that I'm very careful about disclosing. It doesn't really affect me now so I have no reason to talk about it, but I think deliberately hiding disability or illness is even more detrimental than the stigma, as it stops you from getting help, and in the end it just perpetuates the prejudice if you treat it as if it's something to be ashamed of.

I think in recent years the medical profession has been making a better effort to address the mental health needs of doctors. A while ago I read a very moving article in the British Medical Journal by a doctor (a psychiatrist, no less) who suffers from psychotic depression herself and has actually been a patient in the hospital where she now works. There is also the Doctors' Support Network, which was founded by doctors with mental health problems. Attitudes within the profession are changing, slowly, and there are reasons to be hopeful.

For anyone who is considering going into healthcare and who has a mental health difficulty, I suggest looking at the Time to Change campaign. It's an anti-stigma campaign and it's not perfect (I think their attitude to mental distress can be a bit too medicalised at times) but it's done a lot of work to challenge discrimination and get people thinking more positively about mental health. They always need volunteers, which would count as relevant experience for a lot of healthcare and medicine courses, and is perhaps a good way for people who don't feel too confident about their mental health history to get the better of worries over what people might think of them.

There used to be a brilliant blog by an adult/general nurse with quite severe mental health problems, but she shut it down. I wish it was still up so that I could link you to it - she blogged through all sorts of things and gave a real insight into how she coped with her illness while being a nurse on a busy ward. Her colleagues seemed brilliantly supportive of her. Here is another favourite blog of mine, by a former mental health nursing student who has bipolar disorder (her story is less positive as she was not well-supported on nursing placement, and eventually left). There is no guarantee of success in nursing with a history of mental illness, but there's no guarantee of success in nursing anyway; plenty of people without any medical problems drop out for one reason or another. All you can do is what everybody should do - test out whether it's for you through some voluntary work or shadowing, get your grades, and then give it your best shot. Best of luck with everything.
did you do nursing? if so did you find it a struggle with having mental health issues? as I am worried this may happen to me
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opalescent
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(Original post by salmon92)
did you do nursing? if so did you find it a struggle with having mental health issues? as I am worried this may happen to me
I didn't do nursing, but I worked as a HCA in a hospital for two years, so I know a lot of nurses and I got a flavour for the job. I think it depends on the nature of your mental health difficulties and the problems they cause you. It's stressful work, but it's also quite structured - there's a routine to follow on the ward, a set list of tasks to be one daily, and this is something that helped with my own anxiety problems. I enjoyed that job and was sad to leave.
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moonkatt
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Occupational health assessments aren't there to stop you from getting into university or into a job, but to make sure that the working environment doesn't cause you harm. If you have long standing health problems, be them physical or mental it's their job to make sure the working environment doesn't exacerbate them. Working in healthcare can be stressful and upsetting at times, there are things that could potentially trigger people with certain conditions. It's not about discriminating against people with disabilities, but because they have a duty of care to make sure the working environment doesn't harm you.

Though, if your condition is adequately managed and under control there's no reason why they would stop you from continuing with your training. I know of plenty of people who had mental health problems of some degree whilst training and no doubt work alongside people with them now.
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jonnibravo
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I went to an occupational assessment before starting my Mental Health degree after a long battle with co dependant alcholism and depression, I was nervous but there nothing to fear, i was open and honest about my past and current situation and the doctor was happy to give me a clean bill of health. All the specialist look for is what is in front of them at the time. You'll be fine.
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benladdie3000
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Sorry to bump.....but I have applied for nursing. I have a history of depression. I'm worried it will hinder my application. If I don't declare it can they gain access to my medical records or not? I'm totally over it and it's all atleast a year ago.
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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by benladdie3000)
Sorry to bump.....but I have applied for nursing. I have a history of depression. I'm worried it will hinder my application. If I don't declare it can they gain access to my medical records or not? I'm totally over it and it's all atleast a year ago.
I would recommend that you declare it. If you're fine now and no longer requiring treatment, then you have nothing to concern yourself about. Universities will only investigate further if you are currently unstable or there are issues which suggest you may be a risk to yourself or others.

We have advice for the whole process here which should be helpful:
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...2#post76659932
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noey123
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I'm a student nurse and i know of people on my course who have suffered severe depression and it hasn't stoped them getting into the course. Like all nursing students you are gonna have to go through an occupational health assesment but remember it's not there to catch you out but to help and support you.

If they for some odd reason have decided not let you onto the course purley because of mental illness that would be discrimination and you have the right to complain. Btw my lecturer has had depression and he talks about it all the time and that hasn't stoped him from being an amazing nurse or teacher. Dont worry you will be fine, just make sure you are honest and open with them so you can get the all the support you need xx
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