How do I approach a school about my diagnosed mental illness?

Hey everyone,

This may be a touchy subject, but I was wondering what would be the best way of talking to a school about a diagnosed mental illness? Discussions about mental illness have been more open than ever, so at what stage should something of this nature be brought up to a potential school? Thanks!

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Hey there RKid,

This is a very brave question, and one well worth asking. It is an incredibly topic, and like you said, there should be open discussion about it. The black dog, and other mental illnesses, can affect anyone, and when things get stressful at work people can feel wrongly embarassed about talking to their supervisors about what they’re going through. However, it is unrealistic to say that all schools handle issues like these fantastically, which begs the question, just when should budding young teachers approach this topic with their potential employers? Should it be in the job interview process, or after you’ve got the job?

Thankfully, at PRAC-E Symposium II, our panel discussed this topic thoroughly for the pre-service teachers in the audience. Hear their opinions on the YouTube video and Podcast below:

SUMMARY

  • Society’s attitudes towards mental illness is changing positively. It doesn’t have the stigma it once had.
  • If you’re open with the school, they can help you. This is better than them having to account for you without understanding what is going on.
  • Many times your self-perception is stronger than what others may think. Once you are open with the school about potential issues, it is now a judgement on them
  • Perhaps don’t be too open in the job interview itself. Get the job and prove your worth beforehand. You could ask about their supportive induction programs in the interview as a backdoor into getting their response to similar themes. It is a test of the employer than, not of you.
  • Always be sure to create your own support networks outside of schools and find what works for you. Be sure to look for them, rather than expect something made for you.
  • There is always human decency to help you along the way.
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Great advice from the panelists.

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