View Full Version : Medical history: how to handle depression / drinking?

October 31st, 2012, 23:58

I'm in the process of applying for JET UK, and I'm very worried about all the medical forms. I saw my doctor recently to discuss my application. Although he agreed that I am currently in excellent health and fit to work in Japan, there are entries in my medical record that I am terrified of revealing to a potential employer.

In 2008 I was prescribed a common antidepressant for about 18 months. During this period I also drank quite heavily and made the mistake of admitting this to my doctor. As a result I was made an appointment to see a nurse, who questioned me extensively on my drinking habits and gave me a handful of leaflets on alcoholism which I promptly threw away without reading. This appointment and my (honest) answers to their questions were all duly recorded in my medical history, where they sadly remain today. I should make it clear that during that period I was still quite functional, and I have long since made a full recovery.

When I saw my doctor the other day I made it clear to him that I do not want to reveal any of this to a potential employer. His deeply unhelpful response, however, was that honesty is the best policy, that seeing a nurse once constitutes "treatment" for heavy drinking, that drinking and depression go hand in hand and that he would therefore "have to" mention both if asked.

I don't know what to do now. I am afraid that if I mention these things in my self-assessment form it will get me labelled as some kind of alcoholic and completely prejudice the JET people against me. On the other hand, if I don't mention them and my doctor at some point does I will be disqualified automatically. I know so little about the application process, though, that I don't even really know how worried I should be about it! I'd greatly appreciate any advice on how the application process works and how best to handle this problem.

November 1st, 2012, 01:13
You seem to be overanalysing.

On the medical assessment form you don't have to go massively in depth. JET just need an outline, they are not looking for a psychological evaluation. They are not medical practitioners and are not assessing you on that level. However they do need to know if you suffered any problems so that if anything happens they will know how to deal with it and best direct to help you. Not disclosing anything makes it difficult for them to help you should something go wrong.

Furthermore, its clear that this was four years ago and is not affecting you anymore. So why the issue?

Being honest and open with your past (which on the face of it is nothing in the grand-scheme of things) is far better than hiding away from it and pretending it never existed.

Most employers don't care about what you did in the past, but they do care about what you do now - and if hiding personal information is what you do now - they won't want to hire you.

You are applying for a job with kids through a foreign embassy. If you can't deal with that level of background checking and disclosure you should perhaps apply for something else with far less stringent application requirements.

I'm also not sure about your visa/employment history but for any long-term visa application, a lot of countries ask you to disclose this type of information.

November 1st, 2012, 14:38
Couldn't you just lump the drinking in under the 'depression' umbrella? Smudging the truth but if it comes up later you can explain that it came about as a result of the depression and treatment you were receiving at the time.
Depression, especially well-managed depression seems to be less of an issue for JET when hiring (provided you adequately show you can handle yourself here I guess).

November 1st, 2012, 15:01
Sides, JETs seem to go down to depression by the bucketloads every year. Why discriminate against something that happens while they're over here anyways?

November 1st, 2012, 15:30
Sides, JETs seem to go down to depression by the bucketloads every year. Why discriminate against something that happens while they're over here anyways?

You forgot to mention the extreme levels of alcoholism required to stave off insanity.

November 1st, 2012, 15:32
I thought that was a genuine pre-req. I mean being an ex-alcoholic back in Canada I thought I was pretty bad here... then I met Japanese people who made my brief stint w/ the bottle look like I once gargled w/ mouth wash.

November 1st, 2012, 15:50
They'd probably be more worried about you flyjining or jumping in front of a train more than you trying to drink yourself to death. The drinking thing would only be a problem if you said that it made you late to work or something.

November 1st, 2012, 16:17
Nah not even then coop

November 1st, 2012, 16:25
I don't know what the UK application looks like. I don't know how much of your medical history a UK doctor will have on file when s/he fills out the form. In the US, I just went to a random doc in my college town, she gave me a physical and an xray, filled out the form saying that I was 100% okay, and never saw anything about my medical history.

I almost always tell people to just lie and not include that kinda sh*t on their app, but that's if they're in the US. I dunno about the UK app. Some people think this is sh*tty of me, but I don't care. If you're fine now, then your past depression/alcoholism/drug use/whatever probably won't matter much. As others have said, you'll probably become an alcoholic when you get here, anyway. I did (for a while).

If you're currently on anti-depressants, I always tell people to be honest about that, because I have strong and unpopular feelings about anti-depressants and prefer to see those people fail to make it through the application process (disclaimer: I was once on anti-depressants).

November 1st, 2012, 20:13
Thanks for the advice, guys. It's true, I am probably far more worried about this than I should be. I'll man up and just tell them.

One further question though: when I spoke to my doctor about it he was convinced that at some point during the application process he would be phoned and asked to discuss my medical history, because (he said) this often happens when people apply to become teachers in Britain. It seemed extremely unlikely to me that they would try to contact him at all, but I don't really know much about it. Does this, in fact, ever happen to JET applicants?

November 1st, 2012, 21:20
I applied in 2010/11, stated on my app that I have clinical depression stemming from genetics (thanks dad!) and provided an extra form my doctor made me fill out (can't remember the name of it but it's a world-wide used gauge of depression) for extra evidence that I was stable with my current medication. It was brought up in the interview of course but my doctor was never talked to about it. In fact the only thing I really had to do was change my medication type to one that was available in Japan.

I was worried about the whole 'depression' thing affecting my application, but I was named top applicant in NZ for my year's intake. As long as you can prove it does not have any lasting effect on your daily life (aside from having to take a pill every day if you are still on meds) then you'll be sweet.

If it was a past depression that you are now "over", you've obviously done things to help you overcome it and live a normal life without needing medication. State what those are if you are asked. They are only strengths that show your coping abilities. If it is clinical depression/a chemical imbalance like with me, just be honest about it.

Unless the doctor writes something down about alcoholism you don't need to mention it. Just be aware that if you do get accepted that you'll need to watch you don't slide back into that.

November 1st, 2012, 23:06
Wow, they told you you were top applicant? This is the first time I've heard about this. Somehow I don't think it's something they would reveal in the UK.

November 1st, 2012, 23:15
Yeah seems to be a thing they do back at home. They only tell you because you're then roped into giving a speech at a do the Japanese embassy puts on before you leave. It was a total trololololz moment.

November 2nd, 2012, 05:14
No wonder your avatar is grumpy cat.

As for discussing your medical history, I know that in the U.S. you have to sign a few forms before your doctor is allowed to discuss your medical history; if you don't put something down in the U.S. app the government is not allowed to call your doctor and talk to them (doing so would be a rather serious crime on behalf of both parties, and would result in the doctor losing his license). I don't even think the physician form allows them to talk to a doctor about more than what's on there.

As for you people in the commonwealth, I have no clue what your medical privacy laws are.

November 2nd, 2012, 07:45
They can't discuss your medical history without you allowing them to. Exactly the same as in America.

(Also Grumpy Cat is awesome and does not correlate to my mood 99% of the time)

November 2nd, 2012, 12:55
(Also Grumpy Cat is awesome and does not correlate to my mood 99% of the time)

Oh no, I agree that Grumpy Cat is fantastic, and I was reasonably certain that that wasn't your mood constantly. But I'd be pretty pissed if they were like "hey you were great for applying! Now give a speech!"

November 2nd, 2012, 13:59
There was a dude who gave a speech at our Consulate dinner. I remember him from the interview session; I remember thinking there was no way in god's green earth that the wank job was gonna make it through. He was the creepiest weeaboo in the history of creepy weeaboos. He had brought stuffed anime toys and his fat Asian girlfriend (who was wearing a too-small t-shirt with slits cut in the top and torn-up blue-jeans).

Later on, I found out he apparently had an "in" of some kind; he knew someone who worked for CLAIR or something. He had t-shirts made for our years' intake, and was one of the most active posters on the email listserv. He was a freakin' weirdo. I wonder whatever happened to him...

November 2nd, 2012, 14:32
Either bath tub of sand or he flyjinned when he discovered Japan wasn't like anime/manga?

November 2nd, 2012, 14:52
Either of those is a distinct possibility, but I could also see him becoming the "impregnate Inaka Kumi and spend the rest of his miserable shadow of a life as a permanent ALT" types.

November 2nd, 2012, 15:00
So what you're saying is I most probably know him? Trolololz

November 2nd, 2012, 15:08
Our No. 1 guy wore his orientation suit on the plane. Not as bad as cosplay, but still pretty uncomfortable for a 14 hour flight.

November 2nd, 2012, 15:42
Screw that noise. I go in the comfiest clothes possible. Who cares about looking good when you're stuck in a metal container for 12 hours.

November 2nd, 2012, 15:49
Screw that noise. I go in the comfiest clothes possible. Who cares about looking good when you're stuck in a metal container for 12 hours.

I know right? I stayed up the night before and took a sleeping pill when I got on the plane (~13 hour TZ difference) to kinda kick-start the "shift my sleeping schedule." Naturally, the stewardess decided to wake me up in two hours to inform me that they were serving food.

But yeah, only business people go on planes in business clothes, and even then only if there is no possible way for them to change in time to get to wherever they have to be after landing.

November 5th, 2012, 09:12
I wear my Hello Kitty snuggie on the plane when I go home. I have no shame.

November 7th, 2012, 00:36
This isn't a question about depression/drinking, however it is about medical history.

When I first saw the list of requirements that dictate whether or not you need a statement of physician, I thought I'd be fine. I've only been to my GP once (and even then I saw a nurse) about headaches, that they told me would likely be eye strain. It's now fine, and I haven't seen them since. That's the only time I've been to them for anything other than a check up. Since this wasn't recurring, I thought I'd be clear to go ahead without getting a statement.

However, I'm not sure whether or not two trips I made to the chiropractor last year (for a minor lower back injury that I've since fixed with the stretches he suggested) require a statement of physician.

I'm a little unclear on whether either the one trip to the doctors about the headache, or the two trips to the chiropractor (within a few weeks of each other) require a statement of physician..?
I'm intending now to get one just in case, but I could have left it too late. Aside from the 'well, best to cover all bases', does anyone know for sure whether or not something like chiropractor visits would need the statement of physician?

November 7th, 2012, 08:17
I think you'll be fine, Are you affected by these still in anyway? If not then I'd personally ignore it if you're worried about the deadline.

November 7th, 2012, 08:54
The medical form is for things that could affect you during your time on JET. For example: You are borderline diabetic. Good thing to mention. You take heart medication, or anti-depressants which require a prescription. Good thing to mention. Once wanked so hard you broke your wrist... noone really cares (though it makes an EXCELLENT bar story!)