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Would you recruit a teacher with mental health issues?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by felicity5183, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. felicity5183

    felicity5183 Occasional commenter

    title says it all really. If someone applied for a role and had a history of mental health issues e.g. anxiety / depression, would you recruit?
  2. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    Bern there 3 times. Utter disaster 3 times. Don't think you can decide not to recruit based on that though.
  3. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    I think most of the teaching profession has some sort of depression/anxiety etc!
    Lilysowner likes this.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    How would you ever know at the time of appointment?
    You certainly can't ask as part of the recruitment process.

    If the depression/anxiety/etc was caused by a toxic workplace, the member of staff will be fine in a lovely school with a decent leadership.

    Would I employ someone who had suffered in that way? Yes, and would do everything possible to help them make a full recovery as my current SLT have done for me.
  5. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    Totally agree with caterpillartobutterfly. You can't discriminate at all.

    At interview - that's when you make your decision.
    Moony and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  6. speaker2

    speaker2 Occasional commenter

    It is indicative of how far away we are from really having an intelligent attitude towards mental health that the question is raised. Whether it is the employee with health issues wondering if they will face difficulty getting a job due to prejudice against mental health issues, or employers thinking that mental health is something to avoid in prospective employees, the recent national campaigns regarding mental health awareness do not change the fact that if you have any mental health issues, there is still such a stigma about it in the workplace, that is a real risk to name it when you need time off at work related to these issues, or if you going through a rough time and need support.

    The problem is that it would be virtually impossible to prove that a job was not offered due to your mental health - no employer would admit to that being a factor.
    Headteachers say things verbally when references are sought, without it ever being recorded officially.
  7. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    The sad reality is that education today is an exposing and harsh environment and one which could have serious implications for someone with an existing mental health condition; this doesn't mean they couldn't be a fantastic teacher but it may mean increased absence. The other important factor is how a period of compromised mental health could impact on the well being of the children. Having said all that statistically (1:4) there will be literally thousands of great teachers/educational professionals that either have or are suffering with a mental health conditions and still doing their bit for schools and kids up and down the country. Not much of an answer I'm afraid, more a discussion point.
    felicity5183 likes this.
  8. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    I'm 62 years old. At one point or another in my lifetime, I have suffered with agoraphobia, mild depression, and panic attacks.

    I got through all of them.

    I became a teacher later in life, and although there were times when I found it a stressful environment, I did not 'crack up', and at no point did any of the things I suffered with earlier in life interfere in any way with my ability and determination to do my best in the job.

    If the shoe were on the other foot, and it were you applying for a post, would you be happy for them to dismiss your application 'just in case'?'

    "There, but for the grace of God, go I'
    Bumptious, Moony, henrypm0 and 5 others like this.
  9. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    You can’t discriminate on that basis, but you can get a reference from their current or most recent employer. If it states that they have had a lot of time off work, then you could decline the candidate on that basis.
    If it was me, I would look at the bigger picture. Was it just that school that the colleague had the issues in or has it been throughout their career?
    If it’s the former, they probably need to get away from their current role as they are working under ‘toxic’ people. I’ve worked for and know of many toxic headteachers in my 25 years and have seen many great teachers leave the profession as a result of this.
  10. R13

    R13 Occasional commenter

    I've been a Head for many years and have appointed two teachers who some time after appointment admitted to having had such a diagnosis for a number of years. I suspect that more than one other person I've appointed had such a diagnosis and has yet to reveal that.

    For what it's worth, I am happy I appointed the two who have since chosen to share the truth with me. In both cases they cause me and senior colleagues additional workload, additional stress and additional finance owing to absence in relation to their health . . . . but they are both hard working, committed and valued colleagues.

    Recruitment and absence are massive challenges for the teaching profession and I obviously wish that employees I chose were rarely if ever off . . . . but that's not in my control.
  11. alexanderosman

    alexanderosman Occasional commenter

    Someone having issues with anxiety and depression doesn’t necessarily mean they will have high rates of absence...
  12. felicity5183

    felicity5183 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for all of your replies! It’s really interesting. Most of the response are as i’d hoped. Let’s hope that the majority of heads think like this!
  13. felicity5183

    felicity5183 Occasional commenter

    Exactly. If it is well managed and they are in a supportive workplace!
    Lilysowner likes this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This would also be true for staff with long term physical health conditions.
    It's a testament to our society that we do employ and support people who don't have perfect minds and bodies and that we value the contribution they make.
  15. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I had an episode of depression some years after taking up one particular post. The worst of it happened during the summer break and I had medication before the start of the autumn term.

    I didn't have one day's absence because of it - in fact, in ten years I only had three days absence overall. It had absolutely no impact on my performance and no one knew about it. Except....... I chose later on to tell the Head and that was the beginning of his campaign to get rid of me, in which he succeeded eventually.
  16. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I remember a previous discussion on the TES forums about whether it's wise to disclose mental health issues. One teacher, nearing retirement and in a senior position, said they'd been on anti-depressants for years and had no intention of ever letting on at school. I asked whether perhaps they could mention it in their leaving speech, in the hope that their colleagues (especially any potential future heads) would then have it in mind that it was possible to be a successful teacher whilst taking anti-depressants.
    Bumptious, nomad and jarndyce like this.
  17. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    I'm a HT and take ADs.. I could not function without them. Trying to reduce the dose recently proved that.
    I have only taken 5 days off because of this horrible illness - but everyone is different.
    Work gave me a purpose when nothing else did.
    For others, work may exacerbate this illness.

    Would I employ someone who disclosed MH issues?
    Yes. If they were an effective teacher/TA/secretary etc. and were the best candidate at interview.

    I've also employed someone who didn't disclose initially - and that didn't work out. If I had known from the outset, it would not have changed my decision to appoint, but it would have ensured they had support much sooner. This person subsequently left teaching - which was actually a great shame.
    Bumptious and henrypm0 like this.
  18. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    At what stage, however, would you find out?

    For all the jobs I’ve had so far, the health questionnaire and the opportunity to disclose any potential issue has come after the confirmation of the job offer, and after references have been received.
  19. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    some might choose to declare it as a disability
    Bumptious likes this.
  20. clivepadgett

    clivepadgett New commenter

    I must say, its not anxiety and depression that is the problem, people suffering would always have my strong support - its the occasional narcissistic psychopaths that are hard to weed out at interview
    Bumptious likes this.

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