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Thread: Depression and JET

  1. #1
    Member ichigo's Avatar
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    Default Depression and JET

    Hey everybody,


    I figure some applicants this year are worried about listing mental health issues (past or present) on their applications this year at the risk of being rejected. I've combed through the archives on this topic, but I want to know what people think about mental health and JET in 2014, and also about my current situation.


    Over the past year, I've developed depression and anxiety (related to a loss of friends) and have been seeing a therapist. My therapist has recommended that I take anti-depressants short term, but I'm planning on applying to JET this year and I don't want medication on my record during the application process. Before the depression, I was normally a very enthusiastic and happy person, and I've had experience living in Japan so I think I would be able to handle the culture difference. I'm trying my hardest to get through this without meds! Should I take the meds anyway? Should I hold off on applying to JET (or even working abroad in general)? Are there people that have had recent experiences with depression/mood disorders and were still accepted into JET?


    Thanks in advance~

  2. #2
    Official JET Staff miamicoordinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Depression and JET

    I will give you my opinion from the viewpoint of a coordinator.

    I have never once found myself in a situation where I have rejected soneone solely because of depression/mental issues. There are always many other factors involved, such as a real bad interview, or their medicine being unavailable/illegal in Japan. You will find many people who say not to list mental issues but if at any time we found out that you have lied or misrepresented yourself on your application, especially over something like this, you will most likely be cut. Now, do people lie and get accepted every year? I am sure they do. We are definitely not naive to the fact that there are those who slip through the cracks. The advice thaty ou may receive on here to not list, or ignore things only makes things work because we need to look for hidden signs or red flags that might have been easily resolved if they were listed on the application in the first place.

    Q: "Oh I see you are taking X medication for depression. Do you think this might have an impact on you in Japan?"
    A: Oh, not at all. I have been taking it for X months, and it has really improved my overall state of being. I know the generic brand is available in Japan, so it won't be an issue for me over there.

    opposed to us finding out you are on some medication after we receive your certificate of health then we need to start asking questions.

    I don't think everyone with depression needs meds personally, but I do know many people who simply cannot function without it. You should do what you and your doctor think is best for you. Don't hold off on applying to JET just because you are afraid of a mental issue sitgma. You would only be validating the worries of those misguided people who think those with mental issues cannot function in society. If you need meds, by all means, take them.

    There are many JETs who are now in Japan who have depression/mood disorders.

    Let me be clear though, if you come to your interview and give off a "unstable" vibe, regardless of whether or not you are on meds, you are going to have a hard time getting to the next stage.

  3. #3
    Senior Moment Antonath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Depression and JET

    /thread. MiamiCoordinator has given the best advice you're likely to receive about this.

    Having a few non-JET friends with depression, one of the worst things you can do is not take medication that's prescribed for you. Despite what some people think, most doctors don't prescribe medication that isn't needed. Once you've got it under control, and assuming the same medication is available in Japan, it shouldn't be too big an issue. Though if you were successful, you should expect it to be talked about over here: Japan's understanding of mental health isn't exactly 21st century yet.
    ...because Japan.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Depression and JET

    Quote Originally Posted by ichigo View Post
    Hey everybody,


    I figure some applicants this year are worried about listing mental health issues (past or present) on their applications this year at the risk of being rejected. I've combed through the archives on this topic, but I want to know what people think about mental health and JET in 2014, and also about my current situation.


    Over the past year, I've developed depression and anxiety (related to a loss of friends) and have been seeing a therapist. My therapist has recommended that I take anti-depressants short term, but I'm planning on applying to JET this year and I don't want medication on my record during the application process. Before the depression, I was normally a very enthusiastic and happy person, and I've had experience living in Japan so I think I would be able to handle the culture difference. I'm trying my hardest to get through this without meds! Should I take the meds anyway? Should I hold off on applying to JET (or even working abroad in general)? Are there people that have had recent experiences with depression/mood disorders and were still accepted into JET?


    Thanks in advance~
    Everything about Japan exacerbates depression and that's true even without considering "culture shock". Take your meds or you're going to become an alcoholic.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Depression and JET

    One of the bigger problems over here in terms of mental health is the stigma. In the States, being on anti-depressants is par for the course - even if you say something about it, 90% of people won't hold it against you. Over here, stress and anxiety is a huge problem, but taking something for it? Holy shit the badmouthing and gossip - a former JTE in my town started on mood-stabilizers after 3/11, and he got raked over the coals for it by the PTA and the town BoE - the only thing that protected him was the prefectural BoE and other school staff - namely the VP and head teacher. He eventually April'd out of the town to a posting on the far side of the prefecture to get away from it and start over.

    While it might not be as bad for ALTs, there is still a lot of backward thinking towards mental health.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Depression and JET

    I'm sure JET has caused depression in people they accepted more than they've rejected people who have depression.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Depression and JET

    I think doing this job plus watching how Japanese people live only accelerates the steady realisation that anything you could possibly do is worthless, yes.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Depression and JET

    Quote Originally Posted by webstaa View Post
    One of the bigger problems over here in terms of mental health is the stigma. In the States, being on anti-depressants is par for the course - even if you say something about it, 90% of people won't hold it against you. Over here, stress and anxiety is a huge problem, but taking something for it? Holy shit the badmouthing and gossip - a former JTE in my town started on mood-stabilizers after 3/11, and he got raked over the coals for it by the PTA and the town BoE - the only thing that protected him was the prefectural BoE and other school staff - namely the VP and head teacher. He eventually April'd out of the town to a posting on the far side of the prefecture to get away from it and start over.

    While it might not be as bad for ALTs, there is still a lot of backward thinking towards mental health.
    Taking things for actual treatment of mental health issues is frowned upon, but they seem to pass out tranqs like no one's business.
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  9. #9
    keepin' it real ihatefall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Depression and JET

    Honestly, you will get over this. Being depressed over the death of some is completely normal. Get a second opinion, if they say the same thing go for it.

    As someone else said you're going to get the best advice on the administrative side of things from Miamicoordinator.

    But it can be a little depressing on JET at times. It's quite different from studying abroad. I was a little down at times.

    That being said though, coming here might be just the thing you need. (A change if pace, etc.)


    I will say this though, if you decide to start taking meds talk to you doctor, tell them you want to move out here and try to find a suitable med that is available in both countries before you start taking any.

    Good luck with your application.
    Everything I have ever said was a lie, and that's the truth.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Depression and JET

    I'm not sure about other JET participants, but I received a bulletin last month saying that the program is taking steps to reimburse therapy visits by JET participants seeking treatment for mental illness. The program is more understanding of it than you think. The people of Japan, however, are a different story. If you take medication, it's probably easiest to just not talk about it.

  11. #11
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Depression and JET

    I have moved off-topic posts to The Lounge. If anyone wishes to discuss the legitimacy of psychiatric medicine further, please do so there.
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