'Coming out' with a MH history

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Re: 'Coming out' with a MH history

Post by lingua_franca »

Thank you for raising this, workingmama. It's a question that has been on my mind too. I have PTSD, which I wouldn't really mind disclosing to colleagues (perhaps because this is a diagnosis that carries limited stigma - people do tend to realise that traumatic events can happen in anyone's life, at least in my experience). However, I am much more hesitant about disclosing my Asperger's diagnosis, because I have had negative experiences where colleagues who had barely met me for five minutes (and I mean that quite literally) felt entitled/qualified to speculate about what I am and am not capable of doing. These were all people who would assure you that they appreciate the social model of disability/are big on formulation and don't stress labels that much, yet they didn't seem to appreciate the inconsistency in their position, and I felt too junior to point it out. I know autistic CPs who were open about their experiences before and whilst on training, and who had only positive things to say about self-disclosure, but I don't think I would be brave enough to follow suit...
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Re: 'Coming out' with a MH history

Post by workingmama »

As a wee update to this, some conversations I've had in real life over the last three months have confirmed for me how many people (clinicians) that I know are struggling/have struggled with (mostly) the more common mental health difficulties (anxiety/depression). Everyone I spoke to expressed concern about how others in our profession would view their clinical ability if this were to be known. Everyone shared fears that they would be thought of as 'lesser' for having difficulties.

I really am very sad, but very unsurprised, to hear this (well, actually the prevalence of this in the people I spoke to was higher than I had anticipated).

I am deeply committed to thinking about what can be done in my own workplace to support a healthier working culture in which the aspects of our lives that are rightly 'private' don't have to feel 'secret', and would welcome any PMs with advice about how we might achieve this.

In solidarity with all other forum users for whom this thread resonates :salut:
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Re: 'Coming out' with a MH history

Post by firegal »

I think it starts early, I know when I started on training one of the ethical dilemmas posed to us in our first week was related to noticing a deterioration in another trainees mental health and what to do. Some of the answers that came out in discussion had me pretty shocked, immediately jumping to the fact that the person in question was clearly a "danger" to their clients, suggesting it needed to be on some sort of permanent record so all future employers would be aware, with comparatively little mention of support and understanding given that this was supposed to be a cohort of understanding and empathic clinical trainees. It made me feel very out of place and certainly made me a lot more hesitant in opening up about my own struggles. I've also overheard some fairly judgemental conversations from qualified CPs about the ridiculousness of having lived experience on a person spec, or how they would not ever want to take on a trainee with a history of self-harm because they wouldn't want that on their conscience.
Luckily I've also experienced really incredible teaching about working as a CP with lived experience, which was so valuable and helpful for me to hear.
In terms of being "out" I'm pretty open with my psychology colleagues about the fact that I sometimes struggle and make use of therapy, I am much less open about the specifics of my difficulties, mostly related to what has previously been mentioned in this thread about the sense that certain difficulties are seen as more "extreme" and more stigmatised than others. I don't find myself as open with other professionals, but I wonder if that's just because the conversation doesn't tend to come up.
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