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Old 12-22-2018, 11:17 AM #1
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Default To disclose or not to disclose?

I have a small conundrum and would appreciate any thoughts or advice y'all might have. I'll be working at a different hospital for the next two weeks. Part of the purpose is educational (for me to learn how other specialties at other hospitals function), but another purpose is for them to check me out and decide whether or not they might be interested in hiring me or offering me a fellowship spot once I'm done with residency.

The conundrum is that normally I have to miss several hours of work on Friday afternoons in order to go to therapy (~3.5 hours--one hour of therapy, one hour of group, and 45 minutes drive time each way). I'm afraid that if I tell them I have depression, they won't want to hire me (because of stigma, and because me having to go to therapy every week is kind of a scheduling nightmare for hospitals/doctors). However, I don't want to misrepresent myself, and I don't want to contribute to stigma of mental illness in medicine by not disclosing, and I think that acting ashamed of a thing usually makes any existing shame worse... plus if they're the sort of workplace that won't take me because I have depression, I may not want to work for them anyway.

As far as I can tell, my options are:
- not go either week, which would be stupid
- go one week but not the other to minimize impact, which would be less stupid
- go both weeks
- go one or both weeks and not explain why ("I have a medical appointment")
- go one or both weeks and explain why ("I've got depression and have a therapy appointment")

Thoughts? Perspectives? Stories?
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:33 AM #2
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I can definitely appreciate your position.

If it were me, because the whole situation is new, I would definitely keep my therapy appts and tell them I have a pre-existing commitment I need to keep.

If and when they offer you the position, you can negotiate your Friday afternoons at that time.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:50 AM #3
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I'd say you have a doctor's appointment. Or maybe just "an appointment" if you worry about not being entirely truthful. Or "a personal obligation" (I mean, it could be something like taking a parent to an appointment). It's only 2 weeks, so wouldn't seem all that odd that you might have two appointments scheduled in that time. Could you offer to make up the time?
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:55 AM #4
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

It's a hard choice. I've disclosed at work (like finally and after at least 2 previous sabbaticals for MH) and taken less work on because it's time to prioritise my mental health.

So it took some time. And I kinda knew what the overall reaction would be.

For 'look see' like that I'd have previous appointments, evaluate the place, including whether they are MH friendly, then disclose when needed.

It's a lot easier for an employer to make accommodations when they know you and your good work. When you, as a prospective person with (I assume) competition for the place, some will be like, where all else is equal why take the one who, at the very least, is a scheduling hassle, if not some one we 'are' continually going to have to make accommodations for...

As for stigma I get you on that but sometimes put me first and then when you are settled fight for others
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:58 AM #5
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I've never told my employers that I'm in therapy - not because of stigma, it's just part of my life I want to keep separate from work. I usually tell them I have a pre-existing commitment that's very important to me and offer to make up the hours in whichever way works best (come in early, stay late, etc.).
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:16 PM #6
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I think your situation is analogous to a first date: are you obligated to share every part of your private history on a first date? No. It's just a first date, not a marriage proposal.


I think the over weighted sense of an obligation to tell the "truth" also comes from a place of shame. You are entitled to your privacy. If you want to keep the appts, then let them know you have pre-scheduled appts that would not be possible to reschedule at short notice. I don't think you need be any more specific than that.



Any other concerns are way down the road at this point, and those bridges can be crossed when and if you reach them.
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Old 12-22-2018, 02:48 PM #7
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chihirochild View Post
I have a small conundrum and would appreciate any thoughts or advice y'all might have. I'll be working at a different hospital for the next two weeks. Part of the purpose is educational (for me to learn how other specialties at other hospitals function), but another purpose is for them to check me out and decide whether or not they might be interested in hiring me or offering me a fellowship spot once I'm done with residency.



The conundrum is that normally I have to miss several hours of work on Friday afternoons in order to go to therapy (~3.5 hours--one hour of therapy, one hour of group, and 45 minutes drive time each way). I'm afraid that if I tell them I have depression, they won't want to hire me (because of stigma, and because me having to go to therapy every week is kind of a scheduling nightmare for hospitals/doctors). However, I don't want to misrepresent myself, and I don't want to contribute to stigma of mental illness in medicine by not disclosing, and I think that acting ashamed of a thing usually makes any existing shame worse... plus if they're the sort of workplace that won't take me because I have depression, I may not want to work for them anyway.



As far as I can tell, my options are:

- not go either week, which would be stupid

- go one week but not the other to minimize impact, which would be less stupid

- go both weeks

- go one or both weeks and not explain why ("I have a medical appointment")

- go one or both weeks and explain why ("I've got depression and have a therapy appointment")



Thoughts? Perspectives? Stories?
I would honestly keep both unless having to commit that much time (regardless of what it's for) is more a problem than anything.

I work in inpatient mental health and as much as I'd like to say medicine is more enlightened than the average person, stigma is still very real and can cause all sorts of problems for you professionally.

If you have to tell someone, I would limit it to whoever is absolutely necessity and only when you have limited to no options.

That's just me personally though and I tend to be a pretty private person in general. I don't mind sharing when I know people are good, but otherwise I don't want people in my business
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:06 PM #8
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I would not disclose until after they make you an offer. You could say you have an appointment and leave it at that one of the weeks, or maybe your T will compromise with you and see you at a special time?
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:55 PM #9
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I would not suggesting disclosing. It is nobody's business, least of all employers who can discriminate.

Say you have a weekly commitment on Friday afternoons and as such, you won't be available between the hours of xxx and xxx.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:39 PM #10
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Default Re: To disclose or not to disclose?

I don't work in medicine, but I was recently looking for a job in software engineering. I go to therapy every Friday afternoon and it's in a different city, so I can't work on that day, it'd be a nightmare to schedule.

I told them pretty upfront that I could only work 4 days a week and that I'd have to take Fridays off. All companies at some point asked why I didn't want to work full-time/what was going on on Friday. I told them that I have a regular doctor's appointment. Which is true since my T is a psychiatrist. They are not legally allowed to force me to answer what my condition is in that case. They asked me whether it'd impact my work while I'm there, but they didn't even ask about the specifics, what kind of doctor or what kind of illness.

I'd suggest not explaining why, and to at least if you are not too urgently required to find a job to choose to go every or every second week based on what you'd like better.
Once you start working there, know the people, everything, then you can still make the decision to tell them. But disclosing right away with what you struggle might make them less likely to hire you. Not because of the stigma, but because it's a risk for them and if another candidate does not pose that risk, they might choose that person. Since they don't know you, they can't tell what exactly depression means, does it mean sometimes just suddenly not showing up for work or is it no problem at all. So they might just go with the person who does not struggle with anything.

I don't live in the US, my country has significantly less stigma around mental health. Yet my T has advised me to not talk about what I'm struggling with during interviews. I decided to go with that and feel it was a good decision.
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