EMT and mental health

ellexruth

whatever it takes
17
3
1
Hey all,

I'm new to the site. I'm very passionate about EMS and after a year of solid pondering I decided to go for it. I'm enrolled at a school and starting in mid-January. I literally couldn't be more thrilled. However, I'm diagnosed with bipolar II, anxiety and ADD. I've been stable on medications for quite some time now. I'm really anxious about pursuing this type of career - I don't have any self-doubt, but I'm afraid about any bias I might face either at school or in the hiring process or even while working. Is it best not to disclose this sort of information officially? Does anybody else have a mental illness and is an EMT/paramedic? It's just after high school (graduated 2007), I felt very pressured to go to college. After almost 10 years and like 6-7 majors I just gave up because I was wasting a colossal amount of money. : /
But now I finally feel real passion about something, and I don't want to set myself up for disappointment.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
5,256
1,424
113
Plenty. Our field is full of people with mental disorders. Seriously. One of my favorite partners has a history of depression, and jumped off a bridge. and now he has an MBA and is one of the best instructors I know, and we got along great on the ambulance. And I would trust him more than I would trust many other providers.

Here is the bottom line: does your diagnosis prevent you from doing the job? Does your medicine keep you (pardon the phrase) sane? Can you work days, night, long shifts, and deal with a lot of physical and emotional crap? If the answer is no, yes, and yes, and you still want to work in EMS, than go for it.

Would I tell someone in the interview process what your mental history is? no. on a physical, would i list my medications that I take and why? yes.

I wouldn't hide it, but I wouldn't broadcast it to people who don't need to know, because, quite honestly, it's none of their business (just like any other medications you take). As long as it doesn't affect your job, there is no need for anyone else to know.

That all being said, there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues. Yes, there is a stigma associated to it (especially on the job acquired ones), but places like the Code Green Campaign are working on ending it, and supporting getting help with it. Everyone has medical history, and it's your business who you share it with, and who you don't.

As long as you can do the job, and don't let it interfere with school, you will be fine.
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
1,212
442
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Ellexruth, I agree with DrParasite. I'll just add that I've known several paramedics with histories of depression and several who were treated for it. I also know five who attempted suicide, two of whom were successful. I'm not sure any of us here are qualified to assess your chances of maintaining your health, so you'll have to do that. Just remember that the stressors in EMS are greater than those in most occupations. I'm not saying you couldn't succeed; I'm just saying that if I were, say, hearing impaired, I probably wouldn't take violin lessons.

If you do proceed with EMS, I suggest you tell the truth about your medical history, but only when asked. Good luck with whatever you pursue.
 
OP
ellexruth

ellexruth

whatever it takes
17
3
1
Plenty. Our field is full of people with mental disorders. Seriously. One of my favorite partners has a history of depression, and jumped off a bridge. and now he has an MBA and is one of the best instructors I know, and we got along great on the ambulance. And I would trust him more than I would trust many other providers.

Here is the bottom line: does your diagnosis prevent you from doing the job? Does your medicine keep you (pardon the phrase) sane? Can you work days, night, long shifts, and deal with a lot of physical and emotional crap? If the answer is no, yes, and yes, and you still want to work in EMS, than go for it.

Would I tell someone in the interview process what your mental history is? no. on a physical, would i list my medications that I take and why? yes.

I wouldn't hide it, but I wouldn't broadcast it to people who don't need to know, because, quite honestly, it's none of their business (just like any other medications you take). As long as it doesn't affect your job, there is no need for anyone else to know.

That all being said, there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues. Yes, there is a stigma associated to it (especially on the job acquired ones), but places like the Code Green Campaign are working on ending it, and supporting getting help with it. Everyone has medical history, and it's your business who you share it with, and who you don't.

As long as you can do the job, and don't let it interfere with school, you will be fine.
Thank you so much! I'm in the process of completing my physical for school (it's all filled out, except for a letter from my psychiatrist and meds that I take...). I didn't tell BEMS (the state bureau of emergency medical services --I'm in Louisiana) but I didn't know if I should disclose my meds and why on my physical. Thank you!
 
OP
ellexruth

ellexruth

whatever it takes
17
3
1
Ellexruth, I agree with DrParasite. I'll just add that I've known several paramedics with histories of depression and several who were treated for it. I also know five who attempted suicide, two of whom were successful. I'm not sure any of us here are qualified to assess your chances of maintaining your health, so you'll have to do that. Just remember that the stressors in EMS are greater than those in most occupations. I'm not saying you couldn't succeed; I'm just saying that if I were, say, hearing impaired, I probably wouldn't take violin lessons.

If you do proceed with EMS, I suggest you tell the truth about your medical history, but only when asked. Good luck with whatever you pursue.
Thanks for your response! Believe me, I've done a lot of soul searching on if I could handle the things I would see / encounter on the job. I feel like a lifetime of dealing with certain traumas has made me able to handle. A lot of people have asked me if I could handle all of it, actually. I feel like that's part of the calling I feel towards EMS. I feel like I could handle a lot more sh** the most people because of what I've been through and because of that I feel like I could make a difference.
 
OP
ellexruth

ellexruth

whatever it takes
17
3
1
Plenty. Our field is full of people with mental disorders. Seriously. One of my favorite partners has a history of depression, and jumped off a bridge. and now he has an MBA and is one of the best instructors I know, and we got along great on the ambulance. And I would trust him more than I would trust many other providers.

Here is the bottom line: does your diagnosis prevent you from doing the job? Does your medicine keep you (pardon the phrase) sane? Can you work days, night, long shifts, and deal with a lot of physical and emotional crap? If the answer is no, yes, and yes, and you still want to work in EMS, than go for it.

Would I tell someone in the interview process what your mental history is? no. on a physical, would i list my medications that I take and why? yes.

I wouldn't hide it, but I wouldn't broadcast it to people who don't need to know, because, quite honestly, it's none of their business (just like any other medications you take). As long as it doesn't affect your job, there is no need for anyone else to know.

That all being said, there is nothing wrong with having mental health issues. Yes, there is a stigma associated to it (especially on the job acquired ones), but places like the Code Green Campaign are working on ending it, and supporting getting help with it. Everyone has medical history, and it's your business who you share it with, and who you don't.

As long as you can do the job, and don't let it interfere with school, you will be fine.
Also, thank you for the Code Green Campaign resource.
 

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