Being a mental healthcare professional with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is not easy. In my experience, there are two camps in terms of whether I "should be able" to work in this profession. The first is that I "should be allowed" because I have a unique insight. The second is that "I shouldn't be allowed" because I'm "not stable enough".

I have heard these opinions voiced from every tier of the profession in my 3 years working in a hospital (which shall remain un-named). I have heard doctors, qualified nurses, psychologists and support workers venting such opinions, often changing them to suit the current circumstances on the ward.

The huge stigma I have witnessed mental health professionals attaching to staff experiencing mental health issues is incomprehensible

The huge stigma I have witnessed mental health professionals attaching to staff experiencing mental health issues is incomprehensible, to the point that I've tried vehemently to hide the fact I have mental health problems. Unfortunately, despite my efforts, I recently went on to experience a huge breach of confidentiality and stigmatisation a few months ago.

I was detained under section 2 of the Mental Health Act (something I now realise was necessary). The problem is that when you work in services, you inevitably end up bumping into someone who was once a colleague in this totally different capacity. I always thought that nobody would be so callous as to divulge such information as "gossip". However a nurse I had once worked with, and who was now working at the hospital I was detained at, then went on to breach confidentiality, with the "gossip" reaching many of my colleagues.

I was lucky, I have 4 good friends there who visited me and didn't judge me and one of whom heard the "gossip" (which was portrayed negatively) and reported it. The one positive thing is that the matron where I was detained took the matter very seriously and dealt with it effectively.

I’ve never really had a positive reaction to my diagnosis of bi-polar

I’ve never really had a positive reaction to my diagnosis of bi-polar but, then again, I tend not to tell many people. It's not like a badge you can wear. The way I always think about it is "would I be comfy telling this person right now if I had a heart condition or some other physical health problem?" and use that as a guide to when/how I open up about things.

Most people, I've experienced in my personal life anyway, don't seem to know how to react. They just sort of say "oh right" and change the topic. I think this would be considered rude if I was talking about a physical ailment but I guess it just illustrates how uncomfortable some people are when talking about mental illness.

I've found people are pretty accepting of depression

I've found people are pretty accepting of depression and usually have their own experience of it to share. However, eating disorders and personality disorders are always met with disdain. Although I don't have a diagnosis of a personality disorder, I did struggle with an eating disorder for years and I rarely tell anyone about my recovery from anorexia and bulimia.

This is because as I've worked in services, I have noticed that there is a long-standing negative attitude towards individuals with eating disorders, to the tune that it's all for attention and such individuals should just eat and get on with it. But don't get me started on that rant. I'm particularly disgusted by the attitudes of some professionals I've had the displeasure of working with, towards individuals experiencing an eating disorder.

stigma rages... even amongst those most educated in terms of mental health

Yet, my experiences have taught me how stigma rages not only amongst the general public, which can be attributed to a lack of education, but even amongst those most educated in terms of mental health. How can we stamp out stigma, when the most stigmatising environment of all is mental health care services?

C.C Neish is the author of 'The Flight of the Bumblebee', an online book about stress-related illness.

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I want to say thank you for

<p>I want to say thank you for this post. You're so right when you say that mental health services are in fact one of the most stigmatising places. I've been wanting to train as a mental health nurse and I have the way some people react that this is what I want to do they either have one of those two frames of mind; either that it's really good because you have a personal understanding and experience or you're not stable enough. I am ashamed to say to metal health professionals that I do infact have a place to study mental health nursing at university (That I've deferred for my second year now) because of how they judge me. I had a cpn tell me "you can't be a psychiatric nurse if you self harm". Their actions all add to the doubts as to whether I can do it. Making me feel worse about myself. The way I've been treated and talked to means that I'm now not sure if that is what I want to do anymore if I'm going to be working with people who have attitudes like that.&nbsp;</p><p>I wish you all the best and I think that you definitely have a unique insight that more professionals should be open to and have!</p>

I understand how you feel

I understand how you feel about going into mental health nursing. I knew that I couldn't do it because I live in a rural area with one psych ward and I wouldn't want to work with people who have sectioned me. I chose adult nursing for this reason. Havng said that, I guess the only way to challenge the attitudes of MH professionals is to work alongside them and show that people with psychiatric illness can work in these roles effectively. Re the self harm, ifi you are actvively self harming then I would agree that you are not well enough to practice but it is having the insight to make this decision. If I am self harming I don't practice and I get help from my CPN and psychiatrist. And only HR need to know your medical history.

Again, thank you.  I'm a

<p>Again, thank you. &nbsp;I'm a mental health social worker with a long experience of depression and anxiety, following a kind of psychotic breakdown in my early 20s, and following a series of horrible events I have needed to take time off work with a kind of PTSD response to things. &nbsp;The day that precipitated this period of leave I genuinely feared I would be sectioned by my own team, and my friends have been amused/horrified by the irony of "don;t you need referring for profesional help...?!" and my response that "I am the professional help!" - things are recovering themselves and I'm back at work.</p><p>The time I had off was very difficult and I hope that in time they will consolidate into an experience I can use further in my work. &nbsp;What I did notice when I spoke (informally) to colleagues about what was happening, was how lost they seemed. If I had the banner of "service user" over my head undergoing the same things, I've seen how they would sweep in, advising, listening, suggesting, using their skills and knowledge to help - but that when one of "their own" was experencing this they looked lost and as if they "didn't know what to say". &nbsp;I am lucky in that I haven't yet experienced anything I would call "stigma" from colleagues (historically yes from others but in this turn I've been lucky), but it really did highlight the gap between the "evidence-based cures" and medicalised understandings we have of "mental healh problems" and the lived reality.</p>

Mental Health Professional

<p>I hope that nurse was appropriately disciplined for breaching confidentiality!</p>

Discrimination by Fellow Professionals.

<P>Dear Anon,</P> <P>Thanks for sharing your experience but I'm afraid to say is all too common. I am somewhat saddened at the need to anonymise your story. I like you am a service user and professional. My experience working in statutory services was in the main very positive and I was lucky enough to be able to be completely open.</P> <P>In 2007 I moved to become a Mental Wellbeing Advisor at&nbsp;a university a position that gets me access to significant people in my local Trust. They do respect me but that is not a respect always accorded to the many mental health nursing and social work students that I support. It is a nightmare getting students into out of area hospitals if they have to be admitted and they live forever in fear of meeting someone they know.</P> <P>I completely agree with you that professionals also stigmatise by diagnosis. I have just submitted a piece on that subject to Time to Change. I always found when I used secondary services-I have been clear since 2008-that the treatment and respect meted out was entirely dependent on diagnosis.</P> <P>Good luck with your career and I hope things work out for you. I tend to just ignore those doubted and work hard to prove them wrong.</P>


I've worked in mental health for 7 years and am now a professionally qualified worker working within mental health. I've experienced periods of anxiety and depression since I was a teenager and continue every so often to struggle with low mood, however this is now manageable. I've mentioned to people at work in conversation that I've experienced these issues as I am aware that some of my colleagues in my small team are also open (although do not give detail) about having experienced such issues. As a teenager I self harmed. Not badly but have a few scars on my arms and I feel that people would just 'know'. This was 10 years ago and for the past 10 years I have never worn short sleeves at university, at work, in front of friends or my partners family. I do believe that there are some people within the trust I work in that would gossip and hold a negative view toward me despite working with people with severe and enduring mental health issues. I've seen this first hand when nurses have spoken negatively about attention seeking etc. Surely there must be a point where I think enough is enough, it's been too long. Life's too short eh? I just can't bring myself to do it. It's sad that we are even highlighting stigma within mental health services as an issue. For this reason I will sadly remain anonymous x

Well kept secret

I'm a nurse and diagnosed with bipolar 7 years ago. I do have very supportive friends/colleagues who've known me for many years.I know everyone doesn't have to know all the details but there's times when I feel ashamed being bipolar. The stigma and discrimination is just as prevelant amongst health care professionals as in other professions. There's been occasions where I've had to leave the room as colleagues have

Bipolar Disorder

I have had the illness since the age of 10 and wasnt diagnosed until I was 35 when I was hospitalised for 3 months and now I am 46 years old and run a self helf group for Bipolar uk. I have always worked in promotions and sales, but after I found out about this illness, I studied it all and including counselling. I am so upset about the stigma about this illness that I am writing my own life story of what it has been like to grow up with it knowing how it affected me and not know why for all these years. Traumas from assults, bullying and deaths can trigger this illness and it is not just one illness, there is many surrounding illnesses that can be associated with it. Its an excuse, you put it on, your not really like that, well thats the stigma that goes with this or they know they have a problem and are in denial. There are many people with this illness that dont understand it themselves and they are the ones who self harm or take there own lives. I want to help and save as many people as possible. But to do this the mental Health need money and support to help others. Some people dont have the confidence and they are the people who get brushed aside and ignored because they cant stand up for themselves. I aim to turn Bipolar into a blessing for people, not a illness and that is how I coped with Bipolar from 10 years old., Some will do it others will deal with Bipolar Disorder there own way with alcohol or drugs and this is not the answer.

It's so reassuring to hear

It's so reassuring to hear about other professionals with MH diagnoses. I know we exist. I wish there was some kind of forum/resource for us. It still feels like "a dirty secret". It's barely touched upon in the literature, I certainly can't find anything. Does anyone have any links/papers/book recommendations...?

I have just written a book on

I have just written a book on that very subject. It is however some months away from publication. I think it would be great to have forum for professionals who are also service users.

Professional with Bipolar

I am pleased that editors are given some printing space to issues professionals have with mental health problems. I am a teacher with Bipolar and have a blog which I started as a way of making a stand but I really, really, appreciate the real stories from health professionals as well. When you can say that your book is on the market please let us know the title.

My Story, I had been

My Story, I had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression, caused by an enormous amount of traumatic and stressful life events over a long period of time. Due to the attitudes of some health professionals and other people, I was stereotyped, stigmatized and finally discriminated against, which had a major impact causing- A loss of Integrity, professional & personal competency and self-esteem A loss of family trust and respect A loss of employment A loss of Income A loss of health professional collegues trust and respect Alianation of family and long time friends A loss in citizen rights and living standards, through public ridicule, bullying, harassment, physical, social, psychcological and legal abuse.

I too work in mental health

I too work in mental health and have a diagnosis of OCD. i can live my life perfectly normally and I have learnt to handle my condition. I have found that my managers (who are qualified MH nurses) are some of the most discriminatory people I have come across in my workplace. I have never and would never judge a fellow MH colleague for having a mental illness. I have been called into the office for being a bit quiet (was simply very tired) and asked if I am fit for work because of my diagnosis. My OCD has never at any point affected my work performance and i constantly get glowing reviews in my appraisals, yet some of my colleagues feel the need to constantly question if I am fit for work. I was at one point called 'unstable' by a manager for no reason whatsoever simply because he knew about my diagnosis. Would someone with a broken leg be treated like that? I do my job because I want to help people and can relate to them in ways that perhaps others can't, which is a good thing. I do my job because I care. I am not well paid and the job is challenging, but if i can help one person the way I was helped when I was struggling, it makes it worthwhile. Yet these managers who not only look after people with MH conditions but represent the MH field can show such discrimination towards their fellow colleagues, then I question why they are even doing the job.

Mental health professional

Sadly as a mental health professional experiencing mental health problems myself, depression, stress possible bipolar, I totally agree with you that mental health services can be the most discriminating places to work. I've experienced everything from disbelief from colleagues that anything was really wrong ie a shirker to being asked by an HR person if I knew who I was,! I actually think that for those of us who work in the service it can be damaging to our mental health due to the intense pressure of the workload, increasingly target orientated culture and lack of resources including adequate numbers of staff to do the work plus the culture of blame both within and without the organisation. I am seeing so many of my colleagues break down in tears at work and report they feel stressed.All we want to do as mental health workers is to support some of the most vulnerable people in society but it is becoming so difficult it's taking it's toll on us al.

Mental Health Nurse with bipolar disorder

Like many here I work in mental health (as a nurse) and I am being treated for a bipolar illness. I can't say I've experienced stigma as I have been pretty selective about who I've told (I did tell my manager who was nothing but supportive) but I have been reluctant to tell everyone. This is much to do with the fear of stigma. In 'real life' I'd have no problem standing up for myself but in work the reality can be that sometimes it can obviously be more challenging to perform the job (like it is for anyone) and I can't shake the feeling that the less supportive or caring colleagues could cynically call my professionalism or ability to do the job into question. I would really like to be able to disclose my diagnosis in a non-dramatic way as a piece of information only but I think, for all working in mental health, that it can be wise, if you can, to only disclose to trusted friends and colleagues (you'll know if your manager is one of these) as you can't control what people will do with the information you give them. If you can do your job, are safe in your practice and can use your experiences to benefit other service users then keep it up. I agree with others that stigma can come from MH workers and always feel a bit cowardly for not being more open but I know I am well thought of by people I respect and I know how worried and annoyed I would be about potentially having my professional actions or opinions being dismissed, by the less enlightened, due to my diagnosis.

Stigma in NHS

I'm a doctor with depression, although have left medicine to find a more suitable career for my personality. In the NHS as staff there is an expectation to be separate from patients and a lot of bravado especially amongst doctors. This makes it a very difficult culture in which to have mental health problems. I have felt the need to hide my problems only until they have got so bad that I've had to take time off sick. There are a lot of traditional systems in place in the NHS which make it culturally harder to break down stigma about mental health. Also, in London, many people are from non-western cultures which are less understanding about mental health as a concept.

Good point about non-western

Good point about non-western cultures. I am a Londoner of Somali origin . I live with BPD and Depression and have done for many years. Mental health is not really understood in the Somali culture. I find it is the same for many other non-western cultures. It is for this reason that I try to see Western doctors only. I've worked in social care as a volunteer. I was working with a West African male. We had a client who was an African male. He disclosed that he was currently struggling with Depression. My colleague, the West African male, thought it would be appropriate to tell the client that 'Africans are strong and don't get depressed' or something along those lines. Really disgusting. This is something that needs to be addressed. I wouldn't be surprised if some if these people worked in mental health as nurses, psychiatrists. Etc.

advice needed

i have just begun an access to nursing course with the intent to begin a degree in mental health nursing next year.have struggled with mental health problems and drug addiction. I am now 24 and am still in treatment (psychotherapy every week for a year,just started) and am reducing on a methadone program of which I will be completely free of by Christmas. I have been drug free since January 2011 and am the most stable I have been in a long time.I am terrified of revealing this to universities in fear of rejection,although I am aware they will be notified when it comes to my occupational health.previous diagnosis's include depression,anxiety disorder,deliberate self harm, post traumatic stress disorder but recently they have considered borderline personality now at a cross roads as to wether to continue with the psychotherapy and the course and just pray that this will not affect a placement at university or to give up the psychotherapy,continue with my course and appear "stable" when applying.I have no intention of using heroin again. I have discussed this with my course tutor who said I will have to work twice as hard to prove my capabilities and was abit ambivolent as to only being free of methadone for 6months before a uni course. has anyone else had this problem when applying to university? I do not want to lie but also do not want to leave myself open to discrimination. would appreciate ANY advice


I've been very touched by your story and hope that you have achieved what you wanted to this year.

Thanks, great blog!

Very interesting (and sad) blog. I suffer from depression,anxiety, OCD etc and I have been considering a career move into mental health as I believe I can help people more effectively due to my own experiences and it will be a more rewarding career. It is very sad that there is still stigma, especially within the mental health profession! It is not surprising there is still stigma in society if even people working in mental health have such ignorance!I would say it was shocking to discover this, but it's not as textbook learning is very different from actually experiencing/feeling first-hand mental health issues; as I have discovered after seeing numerous psychiatrist, psychotherapists & doctors who didn't seem to really understand at all, with lots of unhelpful "advice" and patronising comments. In a recent interview for prospective mental health jobs I disclosed my illnesses to the interviewer as I felt it relevant to back up my experiences and even though luckily he was very supportive and appreciated me telling him, he warned me not to tell others in future as can be looked upon less favourably. In normal circumstances I wouldn't have said so openly in an interview but due to it being for a role in mental health I would have thought it would strengthen my "experience" and passion for such a role.

Such a Positive response!

Hi I just want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your amazing experiences and for your supportive comments regarding my blog. I've found them extremely encouraging, to the extent I feel comfortable enough to sign off with my first name :) I'd be really excited to read the book that is being published in this area and I feel it is one that should be looked into more. Our unique insights give us a unique position to help others and, provided we are well (as with any illness, you wouldn't expect someone to be able to function at work immediately following a heart attack, for example), we have the capacity and training to do our jobs as well, if not better than our contemporaries. I'm not suggesting that a person needs to have personal experience of a mental health condition to be an effective practitioner, but I've found that when my limits have been tried I've found that remembering how difficult I found times better equipped me to employ some compassion and perspective. And for anyone wondering, the NHS trust where to breach of confidentiality dealt with the matter very professionally. The nurse was dealt with accordingly (although, ironically, to protect her confidentiality they couldn't tell me in what way) and asked that the Matron convey her apologies, which I accepted. I hope in future, times will have changed. And now, in this area more than ever, I believe it truly is time to change! Kirsty

Discrimination in Services

Dear Kirsty, I have just picked up thread of your excellent blog and am so pleased that you felt able to disclose your first name in response. You mention as does another comment about my book. It is entitled "Charon's Ferry" and with luck it will be out in paperback some time early next year. It deals with recovering from serious mental illness and trying to find a career. That was initially in teaching but discrimination put an end to that, and then being a services user and a mental health professional. You may also be interested to know that I spoke at an international conference at the University of Hertfordshire in May 2010 on recovery and identity; my piece was on living with a hybrid identity of being both service user and service provider. Mark47

Selling drugs for mental health

I've got BP and recently left a job marketing Rx for BP and Schizophrenia. I had unique insights, but it was also a drag thinking about the disease 24x7. Most of the folks I worked with (with whom I confided) were supportive. But I think a few folks began to wonder if I could do my job well. Weird being part of a group that preaches "destigmatize mental health" but still finds it a bit difficult to practice, right?

I could have written that!!

So so pleased you sat down and wrote this as I am in a similar position. I have recently just started working in a neighbouring County as I found it incredibly difficult to be seen as a "service user" I have experienced things like at a local drop in session one of the workers went to hug me when I was telling her what had been going on recently for me, then stopped herself and looked at her line manager before saying, "is it ok to hug x?" To which her manager said, "Yes, because she's one of us!!" I now work for an organisation who believe personal experience of services is a good thing, they are out there! I'm hugely grateful for their understanding and I now believe all MH Teams should have staff with lived experience...xx


Thank you for starting this important dialogue. "Lived experience" is something that should be discussed much more openly and positively within the mental health field. My opinion is that there are huge benefits to having people with experience of mental health problems working in the system as they bring another (invaluable) type of knowledge into the role. As a mental health worker with lived experience of mental health problems, I notice myself that I can relate better to clients as a result of this, particularly ones whose experience I can relate to through my own. I've experienced negative attitudes from professionals towards people with mental health problems as well in almost all of my roles. I don't understand how such a moralistic, disciplining culture develops: gossip about patients, interpreting their behaviour without asking them what is even going on for them. The whole mental health system seems to be stuck in it's hierarchical ways. A degree in psychology is so far removed from the history of the field and human experience, and I would suspect so are a lot of professional training courses. What's to be done: I think we need to re-learn to relate to each other (workers and clients and everyone else) as human beings with complicated stories and different ways of seeing and feeling in the world. We need to learn to listen and think before acting and judging.

Its interesting. I personally

Its interesting. I personally have found the MH services I am under very supportive, I am three months from completing my mental health training and I have experienced numerous hospital admissions. I have been unwillingly pulled out of my local area to travel 35 miles a day without a car to get to my work placements due to my 'protection' even though the MH services I am under did not agree however, the university (supposedly supporting students and bein MH professionals themselves) have been the worst! Being told on many occasions that I should consider 'leaving' as I can not handle the stress.Yet their whole philosophy of recovery is to promote well-being and help people into employment. Highly contradictory. Although sadly due to the way I have been treated by the university and my MH difficulties I have had to leave much to my disappointment and I feel like a total failure. It was the nursing course that in fact triggered the illness too....

Thank you for sharing

I'm a mental health social worker with a history of anorexia. I haven't declared my 'history' to any of my colleagues for various reasons (partly because I'm still slightly underweight and see myself still in the process of recovery and partly because I feel I would be judged and my practice called into question on the basis of the label). I feel much more free at work because my colleagues do not know. If I in any way felt that my history or current issues affected my role I would not be there. I think it's more common than people think for mental health workers to have mental health problems. Two colleagues (that I know of) have needed time off with anxiety and/or depression in the past. I sit next to a colleague, who is also a good friend, who has a Bipolar diagnosis. Honestly, she is one of the best social workers I have ever met, and I thought that both before I knew about her diagnosis. Now that I know, it hasn't changed my view of her. I just think it is so so sad that even working in services we feel we have to stay silent about these issues. I am really glad you wrote this, even though I know I am very late responding (just found it!). I hope you are doing well and are finding it easier to speak out and share who you are without worrying what people think.

what to do next?

I've been working in the MH field for 9 years, 8 years in EMI, the last year in a Locked rehab unit. Staff and patients all commond me on how good i am at my job. Everyone thinks of me as this happy go lucky type of guy, smiling/silent depression, always trying to make others happier. Underneath the person they see is the real me, struggling with depression since I was in my early teens. I've recently spoke to my gp about things for the first time. But am unsure whether or not to tell anyone in my work?? Fear of being treated differently or being made to feel I can't do my job properly. All and any suggestions would be most grateful. Thanks in advance!!

Hi A, we have some tips on

Hi A, we have some tips on talking about your own experiences of mental health problems on our website that you may find useful: Mind and Rethink Mental Illness (the 2 charities that run Time to Change) both also run excellent forums where you can share experiences and advice with people in a safe environment online. You can access RethinkTalk here and Elefriends here:

This is a very interesting

This is a very interesting and informative debate. I empathise with many of the stories. I have personal experience of experiencing mental health difficulties in my late teens through to my mid twenties. This I feel was largely due to poor lifestyle choices (recreational drug use) and my mental health has fully recovered since that time and I have never had any lasting diagnosis of mental ill health. I am 40 now and am a qualified Social Worker, however I choose not to share my experiences with colleagues as I am aware like many of you that Welfare professionals can discriminate like anybody else and fear this may effect my career prospects. When I was 25 I worked for the Local Authority as a Care worker and was involved in a whistle blowing episode where I brought to light abuse being perpetrated by people I knew professionally and socially. The stress of this along with the breakdown of a long-term relationship and at the time poor lifestyle choices (rave culture was all the rage at the time) led to me experiencing an acute psychosis and I was detained under the MH act for several weeks. I was discharged to the care of family and over the next several months I made a slow but full recovery and since that time, now 15 years ago I have not experienced any further significant Mental Health difficulties other than occasional low mood. My lifestyle since then has been much more conducive to mental well-being. I exercise regularly, gave up smoking and only drink in moderation. I am a father of two and consider myself to be a good parent. I continued to work for 10 years as a Social Care worker with various service user groups until I qualified as a Social Worker 5 years ago. I have worked with Young offenders and also in Child Protection and more recently in the Adult mental health field. I have recently been offered the opportunity to train as an "approved mental health practitioner". I see myself as a competent and effective Social Worker and my managers and other professionals and service users I have worked with have commended my work. (Continued on next blog)

Continued from previous blog.

Continued from previous blog. Despite my exemplary work record I still have niggling self-doubt as to whether I should train as an AMHP and whether this single experience all those years ago should bar me from this opportunity. I have researched this issue and have been unable to find any reference which suggests that having being subject of detention under the MH Act , that this would bar a practitioner from having the Authority to detain somebody under the same ACT. My own view is that I am more than suitable for this role not least because of my own personal experiences and I am positive about the fact that my own detention was entirely appropriate and necessary at the time as I lacked insight into the difficulties I was experiencing. I see the necessity of the powers of detention, but also the need to use the powers sparingly and appropriately given the stigma service users will likely face after being detained. I wondered if any other AMHPS have had similar experiences and whether anybody knew of any reason with reference to the above why I should not commence my AMHP training. As I said, I have chosen not to speak with my colleagues/ managers about my past experience and have never specifically been asked the question, but I live with the constant niggle that I maybe should do and that if it was known this opportunity may be withdrawn.

Be the change

I've found your story quite inspiring. I am currently in my second year at university studying occupational therapy after almost failing my year due to being deemed 'unfit' for placement I fought to get myself another placement which happens to be on a mental health ward. This has been the most eye opening experience ever many people told me I wouldn't be able to cope with the stress and personal experiences however I'm glad to say I've managed 6 weeks and have passed my second year. Rather than listening to the stigma I think we need to be the change we want to see.

My past, Present and future.

I am looking at this blog and all the comments and feeling mixed emotions i feel sadness for you all but feel over joyed with the paths you have taken and the stregnth you people have. I am currently looking into do my Mental health nursing starting September 2015 (Fingers crossed) I've chose this time frame as i feel it allows me to have a period which i can see for myself i am stable and in the right frame of mind. My personal story in a paragraph is that i am 25 and been struggling with MH for the last 9 Years i have been in what feels every service available in my area including 3 respite addmissions (Half way house) and more recently (in the last 2 years) I have had 2 legnthy hospital admissions, been sectioned on 3 occassions and been diagnosed with Bipolar and OCD. I am now stable, free from self harm and depression. I am on medication and have been discharged from all service (Out patient, In patient and community) for the past 3 months and doing fantastic. I am currently awaiting CBT though i feel well i am in that place which i can make full use of CBT and can use the skills, teqniques learnt from this to help me with my MH in the future which i know will linger around me throughout my life. I am concerned the university will not accept me for my past intervention with the MH teams and my hospital addmissions. If they do i am concerned further than while doing my placements i will be working alongside those who worked with me when i was in services who saw me while i was a patient (which is not the 'real' me i see the 'real' me as the person i am today the me who is well). Also those who are know me who have supported me and my children (Childrens centres/family support workers etc) and others will be 'laughing' at me for doing this and even judge me that i have gone onto university level education. I would hope they would not but as we've established proffessionals can be the worst at times. Because of the concerns i am considering taking a different path in general nursing as i am less likely to cross paths with those who have treated me and less open to be a victim of being judge by those who already know my past weather this be on a professional or social level but as this isn't what i want to do i feel my heart wont be in it which in essence could effect my practice which is not what a patient deserves. I could learn to love general nursing as i am very interested just not as much as i am in doing my MH nursing.

Working in Mental Health

I was in hospital for 3 months diagnosed with a depressive episode and would like to know is it ok for me to work in the Mental Health field. This is a passion of mine and i have vast experience but i dont want to apply and be disappointed.

Hi Steve,

Hi Steve, I know you posted this a year ago but you should totally go for working in mh I've been really poorly during my nursing training and I'm still on the course so go for it :D

Im so glad to find your story

Im so glad to find your story. I think there definitely needs to be more openness regarding our own mental health struggles. Im a mental health nurse and unfortunately have had to take time out repeatedly for mental health struggles. I however managed to fight tooth and nail to get my nursing qualification despite everyone doubting I would ever manage it, i spent five and a half years completing a 3 year course. At the time I felt stigmatised and made to feel that I would never be able to make it, i was thrilled to prove them wrong. However since qualifying I continue to struggle and have recently been faced with a possible diagnosis of bpd, due to erratic mood swings and self harm. Ive made the decision to take time out of nursing to sort me out first, but one thing is to never lose hope! those who have had mental illness and have battled through are a source of beauty ,inspiration and hope, and I pray that soon ill be able to get back into it. However one thing that I would say is that I have been so fortunate with a manager who has been very understanding. I have experienced more stigma from psychiatrists who have doubted my ability to continue in my mental health nursing career, but one thing I have is sheer determination and stuborness to prove them wrong To the comment above, no it shouldnt stop you from working in mental health as long as you take care of yourself at the same time :)

OCD and wanting to do mental health nursing

I am so glad that I found this blog, I was googling to see if you can work in a mental health field with a mental illness, and came across this and now it makes me want to pursue my career in mental health after all. I've had ocd for as long as I can remember and it got much worse after my first son was born, in which I really hit rock bottom! I still have my moments now, and doubt myself and my abilities with all this stigma which will probably never go away. But reading these comments have give me inspiration that I'm not alone and just go and do it, no matter how hard it is it's what I've always wanted to do. I have an interview tomorrow for a recovery support worker and I'm gonna so try my best! Mental illness is just the same as any other illness its no different to diabetes etc, its because its the mind that people dont like it..... like crazies etc, it will never go away, but if more people train with problems themselves it may get better. Were all human beings and we will all get some illness whatever it may be physical or mental, either shouldn't be judged. thanks all x and have a great xmas!

Giving into it

I am a general nurse with BP 2 diagnosed 3 years ago. I cant seem to have an opinion without my so called colleagues reporting me to managers saying I am not well and need help. One manager as a result of what these colleagues had told her, even came out on my round with me one morning to observe me with patients to see if 'I was safe' I feel so ashamed for having this affliction and ashamed for being ashamed hope you understand that. Sometimes I feel like just giving up.


Hi Liz, I'm really sorry to hear that you've been going through a tough time. Please don't feel like you are alone - there are people out there that can help you. Samaritans are now free to call on 116 123. As an anti-stigma campaign we aren't able to offer advice on support directly, but you may find these links useful: Best, Crystal at Time to Change

RMN with bipolar

I have been qualified for 10 years but after a 5 month period of sickness a while back I returned to work (cleared by occupational health) to find that I was going to be shadowed to give an IMI to see if I was safe! This was to be a colleague acting under instructions from a manager who knew the diagnosis. I was very unhappy about that, and my protests meant that they dropped the idea. I have routinely been passed up for progression to B6 despite excellent CPD and certificated skill set that knocks my colleagues out of the water. Nothing good has ever come of telling people my diagnosis. I have been selective, but those I have told... I maybe wouldn't again if given a second chance. I am hoping to move to another team in a new area soon. I feel 8 years in the community in various teams has worn me down. Its a stressful place, and I am able to recognise that its not a job I am enjoying anymore. You have to be able to look after yourself if you do this job, especially if you have a stress vulnerability risk of relapse. Its a shame, because although I like my current colleagues well enough, and they seem to think well of me, I just wouldn't tell them my diagnosis. I just don't think it helps.

Support groups?

Thank you for the article and all the comments. I am a general nursing student with a diagnosis of bipolar 2 and am currently experiencing some low-level bullying in the clinical environment, where I have had to make senior staff aware because of occupational health restrictions on my work pattern. I have been told that it is "my choice" if I "don't want to work" and "don't want to learn", as if the occupational health restrictions are my choice. I have also been threatened with not qualifying from my course if my restrictions cause too much inconvenience for the staff (I don't really think they have the authority to do this but it is scary that they would make these veiled threats). I feel so let down as we're supposed to be in a caring profession. If one of my fellow students was ill I would go to the ends of the earth to accommodate and support them, but nobody except one psychiatric nursing student has treated me as an equal since my last episode where I had to take time off. My tutor wrote to occupational health saying that she didn't think I should carry on with the course and I was so upset when I found out - the occ health doctor told me because she felt my tutor's comments were unfair and discriminatory. Anyway, this is actually now making me think I should quit the course and find something else that is less challenging or another health profession that is more enlightened with a better work pattern. Does anyone know if there are specific support groups for health professionals with bipolar or mental illness in general? I go to a support group already but it would be great to find one where everyone understands the pressures we face in the clinical environment.


Hi there, I am so sorry you have had such a poor experience of staff and tutors behaving in this way it is really disgusting. The best thing you can do is get in touch with a union e.g RCN or unison for support also the students union will support you and are brilliant. I'm not sure about specific ones for health professionals. I wish I could pass my name and email on to you but don't think this will allow me too keep fighting and don't give up. If they are behaving like that and do make you go through fitness to practice appeal against it and go as high up as you need too. My uni are really supportive of me I've been through fitness to practice and it was my own fault not related to being ill although that contributed to it and they have been really good mostly. Defo keep going for it though good luck

Health Care | LLL Tips

A debt of Health is in order for making the LLL care for intriguing and educational till the end! Continue moving us.

Thank you! I needed to read this

Finally I don't feel so alone. I'm currently out of a job due to a massive depressive episode which came on due to medication issues. I'm trying to get back into work now that everything has settled but am having a horrible time getting referees from my previous workplace- all of whom know about what happened regardless of confidentiality. They have questioned providing a positive referral as they question my competency although I am 100% capable when on medication and would argue it provides me with a certain experience that only loving with mental illness can give you. Thanks for sharing and I wish there were professional network support groups which were available that could help others like us to deal with the specific issues related to being a health professional with mental illness.

Keep trying.

It makes me so sad to read this, but I remember the problems I had when I became ill and everyone knew. I have bi polar affective disorder, and found it hard to continue working in my old Trust of nearly 20 years. After the relapse I was constantly passed by for promotion despite being a well respected clinician by a few that didn't know my diagnosis. CPD helped me preserve my sense of worth and keep me from giving up. I have since moved to a new Trust and am thriving in a positive environment with staff that treat me as valued. Don't give up.

Mental Health Suppose To Help Mentally ill

Hi. I found your post. We do need some change. Mental Health Professionals suppose to help mental illness individuals. I learned that these professionals stigmatize these individuals. I read that people think these individuals are dangerous. Someone told me their story that they didn't inquire more and they just walked out of the room. They don't know what to say. How come they don't say "things are temporary", "things get better"? Many sites say this but why say this stuff if it is not true. They don't ask further questions to make sure what they are feeling. They say they advocate for others. How are they advocating if they are sending the to the psych ward? Why say it is safe? Don't know what to do to help these individuals, isolating them and imprisoning is not the answer to these problems. They say there's help, but if nothing works, these individuals shouldn't be hospitalized in psych wards. They say that to intergrate in them in the community. One individual told me that they have to leave a program. They are basically not part of the community. They are being stigmatized. Don't say stuff like "people care" and stuff. He told me that nobody calls often to make sure they are ok. They are only concern and put them in hospital. But in public, they don't care. If everyone don't seem to care, it appears that people turn the other way, why these mental illness individuals suffer psychological, emotional, and maybe physical harm? Sometime people hit others, if that is not allowed, how come these people able to imprison them and isolate them from society knowing that if harms them psychoogical, emotionally, and maybe physically? Input appreciated.

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