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gotitsowhat

All kinds of stigmas

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gotitsowhat

I'm an Adult Ed. teacher in a state mental hospital. It's a very stressful job to say the least. One of my colleagues, Frank, who is an excellent Special Ed teacher, decided he wanted to apply for another job (all us teachers here have dreams about that at times) in a school district near his home. He is extremely well qualified.

After what was obviously a very successful interview in which the interviewer praised his resume and experience, the interviewer told him, "We'd love to hire you. But I'm afraid it's out of the question."

Frank asked, "Why?"

The interviewer answered, with a sympathetic smile, "How could I face the parents and tell them that our teacher has spent time in a mental hospital?"

Frank was stunned. He thought that the man had misunderstood him so he explained, "I WORK at a mental health facility. I am not, nor have I ever been, a patient where I work."

It turned out that the interviewer understood that perfectly well. He just did not think anyone would trust Frank after Frank had spent time taking care of the criminally insane (that is our school's population).

Amazing.

I have heard this sort of thing before. There is such a huge stigma attached to mental illness that even a teacher of the mentally ill is stigmatized. Is this crazy or what?

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solvingtheproblem

The person might just as well said that the reason he wouldn't hire him is because he has cooties. It's just as childish and ridiculous a reason.

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hopenot123

absolutely ridiculous, stigma's like this are a travesty, they have no logical bearing and stem from silly ancient cultural beliefs...

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whyme11

i wouldnt want to work for a guy like that anyway....that guy did ur buddy a favor.

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GntiNh

that is so small minded. mental health is another area of life that is "hidden" and people need more education.

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lifesstillgood

Shhh!

There is a stigma that all men are dawgs! The nerve.

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tinks

Bloody hell thats terrible, We hear of people with mental health issues being stigmatised but never someone who works in that field.

Surely with he's background you would think he would be the perfect candidate to trust with kids and all the issues they go through with growing up. Grrrrr

Tx

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gotitsowhat

This situation is surprisingly common

I went to work in a juvenile detention facility about 20 years ago. When I started there, all of the teachers told me that if you work in the field of juvenile justice or mental health teaching, it gets harder and harder to get a job elsewhere after about 5-10 years. You are perceived as only "good enough" to teach the stigmatized population of criminals or mentally ill people and not appropriate for a "normal" school. When I got laid off from this job, after 15 years, I found it was true. Amazing.

Sometimes it helps to remember how many things are stigmatized unjustly. Herpes is just one of them.

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trying

...and you're in California, a "progressive" state. Really depressing.

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ntdc

I don't think its a stigma attached to mental illness. I think the issue is one of trying to objectively evaluate someone by their employment history.

My guess is that the mental hospital pays the same or less than teaching in another setting but the work is more difficult. Therefore less people want to do it. So they probably have a situation where it attracts a few very dedicated people and many people with limited options. The people with limited options likely fall into the groups of the young teachers who are trying to get experience and the bad teachers who can't get a job anywhere else.

The young teachers likely move along quickly and the bad teachers and small percentage of dedicated folks stay for a long time. So if you have been there for 20 yrs the general assumption is that you simply couldn't have got a job anywhere else.

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foxyloxy25

I think it is a terrible shame.

You are right, people make snap judgements about others all the time, not just for herpes. It is one of the harshest things about life.

I think that is especially true when it comes to looking at employment history for jobs. You are expected not to have put a foot out of line. Do so, or do something that makes you cv less than perfect in their eyes, and you won't get the job.

It seems to me that your friend would be better qualified and more experienced as a teacher having done a difficult and challenging job for years. But the stigma about mental health is an especially strong one.

I have suffered from bad bouts of depression since my mid teens, which were especially bad when I was at college. I got very ill, to the point where I didn't know what was real and what wasn't, and was suffering from severe paranoia. For a time I didn't know how old I was, what year it was - I didn't know what was going on. My mother refused to take me for any treatment, because she was scared that if I had mental illness on my medical history it would affect my job prospects. She was probably right. Even so, legally you are supposed to disclose if you have a history of depression or other mental illness when you apply for a job. I don't, partly because I think it is my own business and partly because I don't want to be judged for it.

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gotitsowhat
I don't think its a stigma attached to mental illness. I think the issue is one of trying to objectively evaluate someone by their employment history.

My guess is that the mental hospital pays the same or less than teaching in another setting but the work is more difficult. Therefore less people want to do it. So they probably have a situation where it attracts a few very dedicated people and many people with limited options. The people with limited options likely fall into the groups of the young teachers who are trying to get experience and the bad teachers who can't get a job anywhere else.

The young teachers likely move along quickly and the bad teachers and small percentage of dedicated folks stay for a long time. So if you have been there for 20 yrs the general assumption is that you simply couldn't have got a job anywhere else.

Interesting analysis and possibly correct, at least as far as the viewpoint of the person evaluating my colleague. That might very well have been what the interviewer thought.

Actually, though, on my particular job, because we are State of CA employees, we get higher salaries and more benefits than regular public school system teachers do (such as in LA Unified). And, for a variety of reasons including the danger or apparent danger of the job, we have a very steady faculty; the instructor who has been here longest has been here 35 years and the instructor who has been there the shortest amount of time has been here 8 years. We are just in the process of hiring a new teacher but she is a middle aged lady. In general, very young teachers who have come here to interview become wide eyed and silent and then don't return. On the surface, this institution can appear to be a scary place to someone young and not used to life's rougher edges. The job requirements here are greater than most public schools; they want you to have a grad degree so, if necessary, you can teach college correspondance courses, and you need to get PMAB training (self-defense, practicum and written test, takes about a week) before you start. In the PMAB classes, they attempt to scare the hell out of you on the first day by showing you awful photos of assaulted employees and telling you all about the woman who was killed on the job years ago (I took over her position). They do this on the advice of their legal team so that if you get hurt in the future, you can't sue. Another requirement of this job is experience teaching in locked facilities. They also like it if you have a degree in Criminal Justice (I do).

So my colleague was very well qualified for this job and other jobs. And if they knew what my job is really like, they would know that if you can teach here, you can teach anywhere. But I think you are right. They probably thought he was one of the incompetent burnout cases that some juvenile detention centers produce.

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