View Full Version : Applying for JET Program and Depression

March 12th, 2016, 09:29

I have been dealing with depression alone for most of my life. Unfortunately, a family bereavement that occurred this past year had made me contemplate seeing a therapist for diagnosis and treatment.

I am worried about how this could effect my application for the JET program, year 2017/2018.

It's been my lifelong dream to live and work in japan. I have been on a 5 month erasmus exchange recently so I am confident that I will cope with the culture shock reasonably well.

Anyway, my question is this: should I keep coping with my depression without medical support for the next two years? Until I can receive possible treatment after the exchange? Or should I get treatment and counseling started/completed before the exchange, and if so, how would this effect my application?

Thanks for all your help and advice,

March 12th, 2016, 13:55
Start the treatment. Two years is a long time to wait. And there is a benefit you can spin as a plus for your application: you took responsibility for your condition before applying to JET, even though you knew you were going to apply in the near future. If I was in your shoes, I would address my condition honestly in my application, then explain that I sought depression treatment as one way of preparing for JET. This will show that you took responsibility for your condition rather than apply for the program with the old "I'm sure I'll be ok" mindset that some people who apply tend to do.

Good luck!

Zolrak 22
March 12th, 2016, 14:13
I've known of applicants who've gotten in despite having a history of depression.

As long as you've managed to seek treatment and have it under control by the time you are applying then there should be no problem.

They just basically want to know that you are an adequate individual capable of teaching/educating children. (And that your past/current depression won't impair your ability/responsibility).

March 12th, 2016, 14:19
1. If you havent been to a doctor how do you know you have clinical depression?
2. Why do you think you cant receive treatment while in Japan?

March 12th, 2016, 14:51
I agree. Two years is a long time to cope without treatment. You don't want to risk it getting worse for you. If they do ask you about it during the interview (and they probably will, tbh), you could easily explain how the depression started and what you did to treat it. It won't disqualify you in the least. I personally know a few JETs that left with bottles of Zoloft because they had it that bad, but were perfectly functional people otherwise. It's all about how you present it during your interview.

And I can promise you it probably won't keep you from getting at least to the interview stage because I have a special medical situation myself and I'm being interviewed for the second time around (probably should mention that my first time was a bust because of other reasons just so you don't get the wrong idea).

Beer Baron
March 12th, 2016, 22:42
Whatever you do, do not hide or fail to disclose the fact you have been suffering from depression (it sounds like you've had it worse than 'normal'). To give you a background on me, I was in Japan on JET for 5 years. I was placed in the suburbs of Osaka, so it wasn't like I was in the middle of nowhere. Some people get placed on islands, and even more get placed in rural Japan which does add to the stress and loneliness.

You said you have been on a 5 month exchange before. Going on my own personal experiences, I was fine for the first 6 months. I enjoyed every moment. It's around the 1 year mark that I found myself really hating things. That lasted a while, but after that, I was enjoying things again. It was classic culture shock - I was following the up and down curve like a manual.

Bear in mind that moving to another country to live and work is stressful. You *will* encounter a rollercoaster of emotions. I went through several periods of feeling really depressed (note, not medically diagnosed depression - I just felt 'shite'). Most of my closest friends in Japan, also on JET, went through the same. It *is* hard. It's even harder if you don't have people around you that you can share your problems with. If you stay in isolation while in Japan, you're going to have it a whole lot worse than if you get close non-japanese friends and try and get 'a break from japan'. That may not make a lot of sense, but those who have 'been there done that' will know what I mean. I also found having a holiday to go back home every year and get some normality really helped. At the end of the holiday I was ready and eager to get back to Japan.

It's all about how you deal with these bouts of depression. Don't go and hang yourself. Talk to people, get the help you need and see how you can get the help you need.

Good luck

March 15th, 2016, 14:56
Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for your heart-felt replies. You have all given me some sound advice and I will take them into serious consideration.

I do think the whole owning up to it and dealing with it argument does sound good. I guess I'm just hesitant, it has been so long. But the sooner I own up to it, the sooner I can start treatment and hopefully onto the road to recovery. :)

Lots of love,

P.S. @Ini:
1). I'm not going to justify my personal feelings, etc. on this forum - that's not the point of this thread.
2). I don't think that I can't. But, while we're on it, do you know what the the protocol for that is? How easy it would be to get counselling, etc in Japan? What about "English" counselling? If it is a valid option, it would be an easier wait, but I may feel more comfortable doing it in my home country. There are a lot of factors to consider.

March 16th, 2016, 08:09
CLAIR and some prefectures have established protocols to help JETs deal with "mental health issues" over the past few years. Mostly it comes down to what prefecture you're in and/or how far you want to travel. There are some English language "counselors" near where I live, but I don't know if they're full fledged (Japanese licensed) psychiatrists.

March 16th, 2016, 08:42
The Yellow Peril have little understanding of it but depression is more common than you'd think amongs Jets. I've met plenty who are completely unhinged never mind depressed.

The programme naturally appeals to outsiders and people who feel they don't fit in back home, so plenty of the faces you meet will be navigating the darkest depths underneath the grinning veneer. Don't go overboard on the happy pills, don't hide anything from the beaks when applying and as long as everything else is up to scratch you'll probably be fine.

March 17th, 2016, 09:29
What about "English" counselling? If it is a valid option, it would be an easier wait, but I may feel more comfortable doing it in my home country. There are a lot of factors to consider.

CLAIR recently set up a free English counseling call service but I don't know anyone who's used it. Which is probably the point, since I think it's anonymous.

But yeah, get the treatment now. How would it be any easier to put your mental well being on hold just for a job application? And for so long?