The Student Room Group

Sad story … can I become a nurse?

Sad but true no one can stay on top of the ball when being threatened regularly at home. My dad was a serious alcoholic and it messed my mind up.

I got caught sneaking alcohol into school and they rang the police so I’m pretty sure that’s on my criminal background checks. I was attempting to rebel and attention seek for help with my dad.

I was pretty lost in my twenties and had a drug problem (cannabis) as well as a mental health issue (schizophrenia) that it took a break down and being sectioned twice to really wrangle.

I wasn’t receiving any mental health help before being sectioned despite asking my GP multiple times - he didn’t want to put me on medication automatically and I couldn’t explain my mental health issues very well to him. I wasn’t really recognising the specific issues with my problem very well and couldn’t communicate them. I had told the GP I was smoking cannabis to try and help My mental health. He said don’t do it too much. The doctor discussed it with me the first time I was sectioned. He said it’s ok to smoke it but not too often.

During one of the times when I was unwell and not receiving any mental health help I got caught shoplifting. I wasn’t stealing out of desire or need - I had spiritual beliefs it was necessary to be a Robin Hood like character to end the evil spiritual energy. I had seriously had a schizophrenic breakdown.

After being sectioned again and being on medication long term with new advice to not smoke cannabis at all from the doctor I have finally reached balance. I wanted to be here a lot when I was younger and was devastated I couldn’t get here - it was a downward spiral where I had no help.

Now i live free of drugs entirely, according to the new advice from my most recent doctor and because I wanted this change to happen. I am really enjoying my life free of drugs and having finally gone through a mental health breakdown, I’m pleased I got picked up and sectioned.

Now that I’m living my life this way - I want to help other people with these kind of problems get there too. Is there any chance at all I would be considered as a NHS nurse if i applied?

I already have a degree, I’m interested in this type of work however and wondered if anyone knows of any case stories of people like me finding success as an NHS nurse.

I wish I didn’t have to go through the breakdown to get help when I had tried to get there before things became worse (with my GP) , i did try to stop this from happening and want to see the system improve so people can get the help they need before a crisis.

I didn’t understand that I was a criminal for sneaking alcohol when i was a teenager, I was only 13and didn’t realise how it would be taken so seriously bythe adult world.When I was in the episode in my twenties - I wasseriously not in touch with the real world and neededmedication for symptoms of schizophrenia. I was in a fairytale!

Both my GP and first psychiatric doctor (who I met afterbeing sectioned) were relaxed about me smokingcannabis - they said it was ok to smoke just not too often. I continued smoking cannabis kind of because of this relaxed advice.
(edited 2 months ago)

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I mean I can't see that you had any kind of legal issues from that which would be a fitness to practice concern from what you've said and presumably as long as you are stable and being treated for your condition(s) I imagine you would get signed off by occupational health from that angle?

Obviously for your own sake you want to be comfortable you have a good support network and the issues are being managed/are no longer a factor.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 2
Original post by artful_lounger
I mean I can't see that you had any kind of legal issues from that which would be a fitness to practice concern from what you've said and presumably as long as you are stable and being treated for your condition(s) I imagine you would get signed off by occupational health from that angle?

Obviously for your own sake you want to be comfortable you have a good support network and the issues are being managed/are no longer a factor.

Ok true, they didn’t caution me - but it’s all there for the enhanced DBS check as this stretches beyond cautions and convictions to general notes about a citizen.

I guessyou are already knowledgable about that kind of stuff.

I’ve heard stories about people who have been sectioned becoming nursing staff after a full recovery and found thisquite inspiring. I wonder if it’s worth applying with an up front cover letter explaining this stuff. Thanks for your advice - do you know of any stories of people being accepted after mental health issues?
Original post by Sunflower999
Ok true, they didn’t caution me - but it’s all there for the enhanced DBS check as this stretches beyond cautions and convictions to general notes about a citizen.

I guessyou are already knowledgable about that kind of stuff.

I’ve heard stories about people who have been sectioned becoming nursing staff after a full recovery and found thisquite inspiring. I wonder if it’s worth applying with an up front cover letter explaining this stuff. Thanks for your advice - do you know of any stories of people being accepted after mental health issues?


I mean I can't really see how it would affect things unless it was determined that you were still affected by the condition, it was not well controlled, and this was a potential patient risk?

Legally they can't discriminate against you on the basis of protected characteristics (which I assume your section would relate to one or more of) and so the only way it would potentially limit you is from occupational health not signing you off as fit to practice I would think.

Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g. in the run up to the section you did commit some kind of crime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances) or that you had this happen and subsequently have ignored your specialist's treatment plans and the condition is not well controlled, just in general I can't see there's much any employer could/would do to prevent your employment?

I'm not a lawyer of course, but there are plenty of people working in the healthcare sector who have previously had mental health issues or who concurrently have them but the condition is well controlled and being managed by their GP/specialist.

It's not like you're trying to work as a nurse on a cruise ship or something where you need to get a seafarer's medical certificate which due to the international laws governing seafarers may mean you wouldn't be able to get one for a set period of time after the event (or sometimes ever) depending on the condition.
Reply 4
Original post by artful_lounger
I mean I can't really see how it would affect things unless it was determined that you were still affected by the condition, it was not well controlled, and this was a potential patient risk?

Legally they can't discriminate against you on the basis of protected characteristics (which I assume your section would relate to one or more of) and so the only way it would potentially limit you is from occupational health not signing you off as fit to practice I would think.

Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g. in the run up to the section you did commit some kind of crime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances) or that you had this happen and subsequently have ignored your specialist's treatment plans and the condition is not well controlled, just in general I can't see there's much any employer could/would do to prevent your employment?

I'm not a lawyer of course, but there are plenty of people working in the healthcare sector who have previously had mental health issues or who concurrently have them but the condition is well controlled and being managed by their GP/specialist.

It's not like you're trying to work as a nurse on a cruise ship or something where you need to get a seafarer's medical certificate which due to the international laws governing seafarers may mean you wouldn't be able to get one for a set period of time after the event (or sometimes ever) depending on the condition.

“Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g.in the run up to the section you did commit some kind ofcrime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances)”

This is kind of what happened with the stealing, they didn’t charge me because they thought I was a mental health case and I was given a second chance based on this.

I didn’t get a standard criminal record but this criminal behaviour would definitely be noted on my Enhanced DBS which is required for the job.

I had been sent on my way with no mental health medication and permission to smoke cannabis just not too much from a friendly doctor after the first time I had been sectioned.

My mental health had deteriorated and I was already lost in a deluded state of mind for a long while, trying to and successfully avoiding the GP were a significant part of my symptoms.

When I committed the act of stealing I was between help - I had no doctor and didn’t try and get help, I was sectioned before trusting the health system again (due to symptoms of the illness)
Reply 5
Original post by artful_lounger
I mean I can't really see how it would affect things unless it was determined that you were still affected by the condition, it was not well controlled, and this was a potential patient risk?

Legally they can't discriminate against you on the basis of protected characteristics (which I assume your section would relate to one or more of) and so the only way it would potentially limit you is from occupational health not signing you off as fit to practice I would think.

Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g. in the run up to the section you did commit some kind of crime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances) or that you had this happen and subsequently have ignored your specialist's treatment plans and the condition is not well controlled, just in general I can't see there's much any employer could/would do to prevent your employment?

I'm not a lawyer of course, but there are plenty of people working in the healthcare sector who have previously had mental health issues or who concurrently have them but the condition is well controlled and being managed by their GP/specialist.

It's not like you're trying to work as a nurse on a cruise ship or something where you need to get a seafarer's medical certificate which due to the international laws governing seafarers may mean you wouldn't be able to get one for a set period of time after the event (or sometimes ever) depending on the condition.

I have mentioned everything in my post there isn’t anything else I’m not sharing
Reply 6
I havnt been sectioned, but i have Bipolar and currently second year doing mental health nursing.

I had an occupational health appointment who declared me fit to practice very quickly as i am currently stable on medication, and compliant with medication. So provided your stable and oncordant you should be fine.

Regarding the DBS obviously i cant say as iv not been in that situatiin, but i imagine because yoi wernt convicted and they wernt crimes against people you should be fine?
But what id suggest would be to contact the admissions teams at the unis youd be applying to and enquire.
Reply 7
Original post by PonchoKid
I havnt been sectioned, but i have Bipolar and currently second year doing mental health nursing.

I had an occupational health appointment who declared me fit to practice very quickly as i am currently stable on medication, and compliant with medication. So provided your stable and oncordant you should be fine.

Regarding the DBS obviously i cant say as iv not been in that situatiin, but i imagine because yoi wernt convicted and they wernt crimes against people you should be fine?
But what id suggest would be to contact the admissions teams at the unis youd be applying to and enquire.

Did they review your doctors notes for the occupational health appointment?
Original post by Sunflower999
“Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g.in the run up to the section you did commit some kind ofcrime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances)”

This is kind of what happened with the stealing, they didn’t charge me because they thought I was a mental health case and I was given a second chance based on this.

I didn’t get a standard criminal record but this criminal behaviour would definitely be noted on my Enhanced DBS which is required for the job.

I had been sent on my way with no mental health medication and permission to smoke cannabis just not too much from a friendly doctor after the first time I had been sectioned.

My mental health had deteriorated and I was already lost in a deluded state of mind for a long while, trying to and successfully avoiding the GP were a significant part of my symptoms.

When I committed the act of stealing I was between help - I had no doctor and didn’t try and get help, I was sectioned before trusting the health system again (due to symptoms of the illness)


I guess that could be a fitness to practice concern, but I imagine the context would mitigate it?

So on that front I'd just be transparent about it and declare it as appropriate, and if asked about it explain the context and how you have now adjusted your coping strategies with your condition and how it is being managed to demonstrate that you have safeguards in place to ensure something similar doesn't happen again.

Then you can't be dinged for trying to hide it or anything, and they can be confident that your current situation is much improved and you've moved on since then :smile:
Original post by Sunflower999
“Unless there is more to this that you aren't sharing (e.g.in the run up to the section you did commit some kind ofcrime but were not charged or found not guilty due to the mental health circumstances)”

This is kind of what happened with the stealing, they didn’t charge me because they thought I was a mental health case and I was given a second chance based on this.

I didn’t get a standard criminal record but this criminal behaviour would definitely be noted on my Enhanced DBS which is required for the job.

I had been sent on my way with no mental health medication and permission to smoke cannabis just not too much from a friendly doctor after the first time I had been sectioned.

My mental health had deteriorated and I was already lost in a deluded state of mind for a long while, trying to and successfully avoiding the GP were a significant part of my symptoms.

When I committed the act of stealing I was between help - I had no doctor and didn’t try and get help, I was sectioned before trusting the health system again (due to symptoms of the illness)

A DBS check in not allowed to be an automatic fail on a job application. Even if there is something on a DBS check, the potential employer still has to justify their decision. No-one is going to be bothered about bringing alcohol into school when you are 13, if you are now 20+. What they are concerned about is recent patterns of behaviour that are incompatible with the job - so cautions for theft or fraud if you would dealing with money, or indications of violence if you would be dealing with people.
Reply 10
Original post by artful_lounger
I guess that could be a fitness to practice concern, but I imagine the context would mitigate it?

So on that front I'd just be transparent about it and declare it as appropriate, and if asked about it explain the context and how you have now adjusted your coping strategies with your condition and how it is being managed to demonstrate that you have safeguards in place to ensure something similar doesn't happen again.

Then you can't be dinged for trying to hide it or anything, and they can be confident that your current situation is much improved and you've moved on since then :smile:

Thank you for your advice.

You seem pretty knowledgeable about this stuff, how do you know about fitness to practice?
Reply 11
Original post by threeportdrift
A DBS check in not allowed to be an automatic fail on a job application. Even if there is something on a DBS check, the potential employer still has to justify their decision. No-one is going to be bothered about bringing alcohol into school when you are 13, if you are now 20+. What they are concerned about is recent patterns of behaviour that are incompatible with the job - so cautions for theft or fraud if you would dealing with money, or indications of violence if you would be dealing with people.

Thanks for your advice.

I’m feeling encouraged - check this out

https://www.nurses.co.uk/blog/ex-heroin-addict-turns-life-around-by-becoming-nhs-nurse/

An ex heroin addict became a nurse - maybe I can as well!
Original post by Sunflower999
Did they review your doctors notes for the occupational health appointment?

Honestly i cant remember, i think they might have had my psych letter with my diagnosis on, but you fill a form out i think. Then i just had a phone call, but they might be in person now discussing my illnesses and how it affects me, and if im stable ect.
Reply 13
Original post by PonchoKid
Honestly i cant remember, i think they might have had my psych letter with my diagnosis on, but you fill a form out i think. Then i just had a phone call, but they might be in person now discussing my illnesses and how it affects me, and if im stable ect.

Oh ok awesome!

I’ve been researching online and have found out about an ex heroin addict who became a nurse (link in previous message should you want to read about it).

This is quite encouraging!
Original post by Sunflower999
Thank you for your advice.

You seem pretty knowledgeable about this stuff, how do you know about fitness to practice?

Fitness to practice is an issue that gets mentioned on these forums a lot.

Otherwise it's just extrapolating from what I've gathered around employment law and mental health factors generally.
Reply 15
Original post by artful_lounger

Fitness to practice is an issue that gets mentioned on these forums a lot.

Otherwise it's just extrapolating from what I've gathered around employment law and mental health factors generally.


Oh ok brilliant, thanks so much for your help and advice
If you weren’t cautioned, or sentenced to a crime it won’t show up on an enhanced DBS. If no charges were brought against you. Nothing will show. People just don’t write things on your record, that’s not how it works. Even if you were convicted of something, some convictions can be filtered off after a set amount of years. I think you’re worrying about that part for no reason
Reply 17
Original post by Tonilou04
If you weren’t cautioned, or sentenced to a crime it won’t show up on an enhanced DBS. If no charges were brought against you. Nothing will show. People just don’t write things on your record, that’s not how it works. Even if you were convicted of something, some convictions can be filtered off after a set amount of years. I think you’re worrying about that part for no reason


Are you sure? How do you know this? I read that an enhanced DBS will show “non-conviction information” - any police intelligence that the conducting officer of the DBS deems relevant
Because I’ve had a previous conviction and I have researched and researched and researched this. I’ve been in touch with multiple agencies to clarify my situation. So I can tell you that with 100% confidence. The question is always have you got any unspent convictions it doesn’t say any more than that. You haven’t got any convictions so your answer is no. You don’t have to declare anything
Reply 19
Original post by Tonilou04
Because I’ve had a previous conviction and I have researched and researched and researched this. I’ve been in touch with multiple agencies to clarify my situation. So I can tell you that with 100% confidence. The question is always have you got any unspent convictions it doesn’t say any more than that. You haven’t got any convictions so your answer is no. You don’t have to declare anything


“A wide variety of non-conviction information can be disclosed on an enhanced DBS check. This can include information such as an acquittal, an arrest which resulted in no further action or even an allegation which did not lead to an arrest. Strict rules govern when this information can be revealed.”

- from my research.

For the nursing degree they ask more than any unspent cautions or convictions- they ask directly about minor offences as well which is what I wasn’t cautioned for so I think it will come up

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