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Should I tell my headteacher about postnatal depression?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by bob_the_tom8to, Apr 19, 2017.


Should I tell my headteacher?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. bob_the_tom8to

    bob_the_tom8to New commenter

    What is the protocol in school if the headteacher is informed about a mental health problem? I am on maternity leave and I'm not very well with postnatal depression but I'm afraid of disclosing this in case I jeopardise my job in any way, however, I have a very good relationship with my headteacher and feel I could trust her with this. I just fear that things might be out of her hands if she has to pass the information on. Does anyone have any experience with this? Thank you so much for any advice xxx
  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It's medical information and should be confidential. If you are signed off, the reason will be on your sick note but if you are still on mat leave, I don't see why you would have to tell anyone.

    I hope you're okay and have support from friends and family.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I don't know the answer to your question, but just sending you lots of love and hugs anyway.xx
  4. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    As a rule of thumb. never tell anyone in management anything you don't need to. From what I have read on this forum over the last few years, this applies to metal health issues by a couple of orders of magnitude greater. Keep it as a "medical" reason as far as you have to say anything and don't even say this before you need to.

    Good luck, don't be afraid to ask for help sooner rather than later (medical help that is).
  5. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I don't know the answer either but the information should be confidential. Make sure you are getting the help you need. As far as I know pnd responds to medication and, importantly, it will pass.
  6. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I wouldn't at the moment as you are not at work; in the weeks closer to your return, then you might consider telling the HT as OH might need to evaluate steps to help you on your return to work.

    I had mild postnatal depression but my GP was great. I found that lack of sleep contributed very negatively and my husband, who was working, took over looking after our son twice a week (overnight) which meant blessed sleep along with some CBT. If you are breastfeeding, you could express some for a late night feed (we used formula); if there is family nearby, perhaos they might help once a week? I felt very isolated at times (all family overseas) but a few neighbours who had had children were very sympathetic and helpful. Perhaps even a chat room might help? One group that I met all moved over to a private FB group and our children are all turning 5! I recommend Baby and Bump - very good crowd and lots of good advice.

    Wishing you big hugs!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  7. Calpurnia99

    Calpurnia99 Star commenter

    Dunno the legal aspect but do know that the brief period of depression I spent in the 90s for no apparent reason, appeared on my application form therever after, not that i tried to conceal it. Made no difference to my job effort successfailure, no doubt owing to the number of other applicants who'd had the same thing.

    I'd be surprised, even if your HT thought you were a downright headcase, she could possibly think she had any case for declining your return under any employment/disability law that exists. You've told your doctor. Having treatment? Loads of women get PND. I had it but because t was only for 3 wks I never refer to it usually because I feel it might diminish the greater suffering many other women experience. Do what you have to do to make things OK for you. Im sure (she said, having never met you hoho) you wouldn't just cling onto a job you couldn't do well. Do what you can until or unless you can't.

    We all try to do what we can.
  8. -Sarah-

    -Sarah- New commenter

    I don't know anything about the legal stuff, but I know from experience that attitudes towards mental health issues vary hugely among people and these perceptions can affect their expectations of you and how you are treated. Unfortunately.
    On the other hand, if your HT is understanding, she might be able to facilitate your transition back to work when the time comes.
    Sending hugs :)
    Lara mfl 05 and bob_the_tom8to like this.
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    There is absolutely no need for your Head to know how you are when you are on maternity leave.
    Some women find that a return to work helps them manage or get over their PND.
    If you are ready to return to work at the designated time, do so. Schedule the return to work for the start of a holiday period if that fits the timescales. You return to full pay whether it is term-time of holiday time. If you are then not coping, get signed off sick at that point. Your sick note may or may not specify PND: it may just say stress or nervous exhaustion. No-one at school needs to know the specifics of any medical condition.
    Lara mfl 05, bob_the_tom8to and InkyP like this.
  10. Postduif

    Postduif Occasional commenter

    If you are on maternity leave you are under no obligation whatsoever to tell your employers anything. And if you are working with your GP on solving the problem then the chances are you may feel well enough to return to work when your maternity leave is up.

    At which point, if you feel too unwell to go to work, you can have a sick note submitted in the usual way. When, many years ago, I had a psychotic breakdown caused by relentless and nasty bullying at work, my GP signed sick notes for some months giving "stress" as a cause, and no-one questioned them.

    Remember that no-one has a right to question you about your illness, any more than you have an obligation to explain your illness to anyone except a medical professional with a demonstrable need to know.

    Above all, don't let your good relationship with your head-teacher lead you to assume that you owe him/her anything more than what is professionally necessary. I once confided with a boss about my cyclothymia [a relatively mild but still difficult form of bipolar syndrome] after which s/he took every opportunity possible to ensure that my career was stalled. Don't forget that a headteacher cannot afford to let personal relationships influence their professional decisions - which is another way of saying that if they need to they will pee on you from a great height.
    bob_the_tom8to and Mangleworzle like this.
  11. bob_the_tom8to

    bob_the_tom8to New commenter

    Thank you all so much for the advice, support, encouragement and hugs. I'm being supported by my GP but things have been pretty bad as I've relapsed into bulimia and self harm which I've struggled with in the past. I've been put on medication and referred to the psychiatrist as I think the doctor is quite worried about me. I was concerned that the psychiatrist referral would be something school needed to know about but it sounds like I don't need to say anything. My headteacher is ringing me next week to discuss my return to work and which days/class I will teach so I feel like I need to decide quickly whether to tell her. I am going back at the end of July but starting properly in September part time. I am looking forward to going back, which is a surprise to me as I didn't think I would be looking forward to it, but I've realised that I miss the structure to my days. I find it hard to cope without that.
  12. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Do not open up to your Head. Go back in July if you feel that you can manage it. The change to your old 'normal' could be very helpful. Go back on full salary so that you can ensure financial security should you have to take sick leave later.

    In many other jobs, you accrue holiday leave when on ML. My niece had her full ML as an NHS Physion and then went 'back to work' officially but actually immediately took her accrued 5 weeks of annual leave.
    By going back in July, you will get 6 fully paid holiday weeks.

    You will also get your timetable and will be able to plan for September.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I speak from experience when I say that I agree with those who have said that you don't need to inform your Head. I made the mistake of doing so. Unfortunately, despite (some) improvements in the perception of mental health, it still seems to have a stigma hat wouldn't be present were there a physical illness.

    I didn't miss a day of work, but disclosing was not a positive move on my part.
    sabrinakat and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Your HT is a good colleague. Not a friend.

    If you would like or think you will need some adaptation to your work to be made on your return then you will have to discuss it.

    Otherwise I wouldn't bother.

    I'm at one with my MH issues. It's part of who I am. Sadly not everyone else sees it that way. Much as I would like everyone to be upfront about it and help to eliminate the stigma and prove it's very common and need not interfere with your working life or impede your career? I can't recommend it to everyone. I'd love to tell you to go ahead and chat about it to all and sundry just to show that it's not the preserve of the "unhinged" (whoever they are). But if it were later held against you? I'd have been hugely irresponsible.

    My head says don't tell. My heart disagrees.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  15. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Share your thoughts with your GP, your family and your friends who are not colleagues. Do not over-disclose with any colleagues. It could come back to bite you, and they have no right to know.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  16. Pandora Peroxide

    Pandora Peroxide New commenter

    Would not disclose if it is under control before you go back to work. I disclosed on my PGCE application and NQT application as I was on medication and had to be interviewed by Occ Health. Utter waste of time they were but I always felt it counted against me. Stayed in my first school long enough not to have to declare after treatment ended and moved on and never mention it.

    At a previous job when I had a bad spell my GP signed me off with "debility", she said it was nice and vague as she knew how some employers were when they saw depression listed!
    grumpydogwoman likes this.

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