Depression

JONNY012697

Midshipman
Physical illness is a lot easier to monitor, check and test than mental illness I would have thought.

you are probably right as physical signs are a lot easier to monitor, but just because something is difficult doesnt mean it cant be done.
the american recruitment process is to be clear of medication for 2 years and is then sent to have a psychiatric evaluation to assess any risk. Now 2 years to wait for a dream career is a wait worthwhile and im confident of passing a psychiatric evaluation (its something id pay for myself if necessary). Ive asked time and again on the reasoning of this decision, my last response I received was the Royal Navy doesnt have to adhere to the disability discrimination act, which is fine except I dont have a disability. An other response I got was you are a risk in stressful situations and during conflict someone with a mental condition may spend more time on a casualty list than in active duty, which is fine except I dont have a mental condition. You end up going round in circles.
 
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angrydoc

Guest
You may not have a condition, but you are at a higher risk of one than someone who hasn't had your background. A good analogy would be fractures involving a joint, requiring an operation. Once the initial physio is done the joint is effectively normal but we will still not pass that person medically as the chances of them developing early arthritis in that joint are high and we don't want to make that condition worse.

The Americans have many policies on personnel issues - some may be perceived as better than ours but a lot of them are definitely worse.

I still don't see what has happened as stigma (as I said previously - it is no more stigma than having a joint operated on or a background of asthma). Stigma suggests we are not recruiting you because we don't understand or don't like mental illness. That is not the case.

The Disability Discrimination Act doesn't just refer to disability - it means an organisation cannot base its recruitment decisions on medical issues. The Armed Forces are exempt from this, for pretty obvious reasons.
 

grippy_gecko

Midshipman
You may not have a condition, but you are at a higher risk of one than someone who hasn't had your background.



Stigma suggests we are not recruiting you because we don't understand or don't like mental illness. That is not the case.

Okay i snipped out a lot there, but two points related to those bits I quoted above. 1) A person is at more risk of developing mental illness if they grew up in a single parent family, or they are poor but the Navy don't ask about that on the medical form or make a call on an applicants suitability based on other risk factors like those examples. Also things change, there was a time the Navy had "good operational reasons" why they didn't accept women, or gay/lesbian people. I am keen to see a more evidence based set of criteria for determining a persons fitness rather than a set of blanket illnesses some of which are considered 100% curable and others that are "well the symptoms might be gone but we think you are a flake so you don't get in". Especially as in the case of some physical injuries, you might well heal up stronger. Mental illness can allow a person to develop coping strategies that are useful in a challenging job, and to gain insight into how their own mind and motivation works.

2. well you don't like mental illness, you don't like diabetes or multiple sclerosis or TB either! It can seem that the Navy is quite prone to judging mental illness as something that is a character flaw, that it means a person is not reliable if they have had a mental illness, and outside the military that is called stigma. No employer wants to employ someone they think is going to be off sick more than at work. Deciding that a history of mental illness means that someone is a liability and therefore undesirable for employment is clearly discriminatory. There are many employers who would like to be able to weed out everyone with a history of any kind of recurring health problem whether or not is has recurred in that individual, they unlike the Armed Forces don't get to do that. IMHO an individual should not be denied the opportunity to work because they might get ill. If a person is fit and healthy enough to do the job then they should be given the same consideration as any other applicant. Has anybody even studied a link between depression and "freaking out if the bullets are flying" as people on this forum are wont to assume a survivor of depression would?
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
The problem is multi-faceted unfortunately & the glue on a medical label long lasting.

Whilst many of us will have suffered some form of psychological illness, it's all to do with minimising risk to the individual and those that may rely upon them. If a repeat incident/episode were to happen whilst serving, with very severe consequences, the medical profession would once again be hung out to dry at a board of enquiry for failing in their duty of care to the individual or indeed those directly affected.

Within the last 13 months there have been two very high profile service fatalities and additional injuries directly attributed to what is very loosely and agriculturally termed 'depression'. Tragic though they each were, there is a very hollow void left with bereaved families rightly questioning "How on earth was this allowed to happen?"

My sympathy is afforded as much to those deemed unfit for service as those who have to make that decision, but ultimately my loyalty is to the service and the well-being of those serving.
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
Totally Agree Ninja ...

I'm not sure of the statistics ... which I tend to steer clear of as statistics can be made to read whatever the statitician wants ... however the incidence of depression is quite high in the population. Something like 1:5 are likely to suffer from depression at some point in their life - but don't quote me as the ration may be different. That doesn't qualify if the depression was deemed severe enough to require some sort of medical intervention be that by medication or some sort of councelling.

It is also true that mental condidtions / illnesses used to have a stigma attached to them mainly as people did not understand however in latter years I think the work of MIND and other organisations have gone a long way to dispelling the stigma.

In normal civilian life I will agree that a history of depression may or may not have a direct bearing on how an individual copes with stressful situations and I think the focus is on the situation not the fact that the individual suffered from depression. Some situations are inherently more "stressful" than others and it also depends on the individuals support mechanism i.e. talking it out with friends toextremes of alcohol/ violence. It affects everyone differently and in varying degrees.

In the military however there are a whole different set of stressors on top of the normal day to day stresses that everyone can have which compound the issue which I think can be underestimated ... yes we can be accused of a crime/divirced/getting married etc etc however put the fact that you could be in a theatre of war/being shot at etc on top and its a whole new ball game. You get to hear about the runs ashore/dits from the old and bold amongst us howeveer I can tell you from experience that its not all a bed of roses and in a war time situation nothing but nothing will prepare you for what you may be asked to do. I agree with Ninja that there have been some high profile cases in past months which were attributed to depression ... would the outcome have been different is the individual had not been armed with a loaded weapon? ... possibly. As AngryDoc says ... there is a "risk" that an individual who has had depression may react in a negative way quicker than the next person. Its an unknown, however there is the duty of care that a) the individual has to be protected and b) the people who depend on him /her need also to be protected. Its basically a risk assessment.
 

grippy_gecko

Midshipman
I currently do voluntary work for MIND (for my local MIND association not for national MIND, its kind of a franchise hehe). During my work, part of which is the production of a quarterly newsletter, I have done much reading around attitudes to mental health, employment law, and special cases such as how MPs with mental illness are treated as though they are permanently "broken", where those with cancer are not. Its enshrined in law, and for the 2010's quite shocking. Winston Churchill got this country through a world war with active depression! But by modern standards he would lose his job and not be allowed to vote on bills.

Anyhow I am interested in finding ways for everyone to get the duty of care balanced so that everyone's safety at work and wellbeing is best protected. I can't help but see the danger of associating mental illness and violent behaviour, which is where a lot of stigma comes from. In many cases when people expect a link between two things they tend to report when that link exists because it stands out to them as something they expect. In cases where the link is not present it goes unreported. This is what is responsible for the unscientific belief that the full moon sends people loopy. Many law enforcement personnel and mental health workers report increased incidence of agitation in those who are mentally distressed when there is a full moon. But in fact there is no increase in cases of people needing hospitalisation for mental disturbance during full moons, just an increase in people noticing "hey it was a full moon when we pulled that crazy guy out of the river". When it is not a full moon nobody cares to comment on it or even notice. I would not be surprised if there were cases where service people took tragic violent actions with no prior history of mental illness. When such things happen, lacking a convenient hook to hang the events on people loose track of it easier. We always want a reason for such sad events, we want to understand why someone could do something like that. If there isnt a "why", its harder for those left behind. But sometimes looking for a convenient reason for extreme actions can lead to more complex underlying reasons being left in the dark in favour of something easier to grasp.
Unfortunately I no longer have an ATHENS account and can't look up articles in journals. I was not being flippant when I wondered if research exists on the links between depression and "freaking out" under fire. I really would like to know, as I don't believe the country is best served by basing such an important decision as to who to take into the military on knee jerk reactions to recent tragic events or anecdotal accounts, but rather properly conducted research designed to avoid common pitfalls such as shown in my "lunacy" example above.

We need a balance between putting 25% of the population in the Victorian Insane Asylum, and giving people with fragile mental resilience responsibility for a boat full of nukes. Think of it like a slider.
 

JONNY012697

Midshipman
You may not have a condition, but you are at a higher risk of one than someone who hasn't had your background. A good analogy would be fractures involving a joint, requiring an operation. Once the initial physio is done the joint is effectively normal but we will still not pass that person medically as the chances of them developing early arthritis in that joint are high and we don't want to make that condition worse.

The Americans have many policies on personnel issues - some may be perceived as better than ours but a lot of them are definitely worse.

I still don't see what has happened as stigma (as I said previously - it is no more stigma than having a joint operated on or a background of asthma). Stigma suggests we are not recruiting you because we don't understand or don't like mental illness. That is not the case.

The Disability Discrimination Act doesn't just refer to disability - it means an organisation cannot base its recruitment decisions on medical issues. The Armed Forces are exempt from this, for pretty obvious reasons.

If you read what Lt. Col Rock says in his article he says,
'People need to start thinking of mental health problems as an illness, not a character defect'
'Speaking up wont affect your career in the longer term unless theres a major problem and for most people it wont be that; it will be a short term illness'
Now surely under your understanding that these servicemen and women who seek help should automatically be given a medical discharge because they now fit under the 'higher risk of than someone who hasnt had their background'. Id say that would contravene what Lt Col Rock says when he states 'Speaking up wont affect your career in the longer term' because being discharged would adversely affect your career. These quotes from Lt Col Rock are from an MOD sponsored campaign to tackle the stigma of mental illness in the military.
My statement stands that im not allowed to join because in the MOD's eyes im a flight risk but whilst in the military its just an illness.
I ask the MOD to make up its mind.
 

chieftiff

War Hero
Moderator
I really would like to know, as I don't believe the country is best served by basing such an important decision as to who to take into the military on knee jerk reactions to recent tragic events or anecdotal accounts, but rather properly conducted research designed to avoid common pitfalls such as shown in my "lunacy" example above.

As much as I respect your empathy for Johnny and obvious sense of 'fairness' there is something you seem to be forgetting. The decision as to who the navy recruit is all about who the navy need to fulfil their role versus who they can get, currently there isn't a problem getting young people in the door, as long as that situation exists they won't take any risks that they don't have to it's as simple as that, the logic is infallible, why should they follow an illogical route and add potential risk to recruitment.

I know it seems that the focus of this sort of decision is on the individual, it is after all they who may have their lifelong dreams dashed in a second, in reality the focus is the interest of the service and ultimately the country. The reality is that this is a decision that is unlikely to be changed unless the number of available applicants takes a dramatic drop and the navy 'need' to look further afield to meet their recruitment targets.

There are plenty of other equally challenging, adventurous and rewarding careers out there, rather than waste a big chunk of energy dwelling on something that has passed it's best to focus the mind on something of worth.
 

Ratcatcher

Badgeman
In a similar point to above, once the MOD has spent money training you and you develop a mental illness, it is in their financial interest to try and keep you on board. It is a safer financial decision not to risk training someone who (statistically) is at a greater risk of developing a mental illness especially when there are surplus applicants. They are simply hedging their bets.
 

SONAR-BENDER

War Hero
Well, as this thread is now lurching to it's end, may I share the following, which was sent to me today.... It might not be very PC but it made me giggle and if you giggle, then you can't be depressed - right?

Depressed?


Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel, "Pick up your shovels, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land."

Nearly 75 years ago, (when Welfare was introduced) Roosevelt said, "Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a Camel, this is the Promised Land."

Today, Congress has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of Camels and mortgaged the Promised Land!

I
Was so depressed last night thinking about Health Care Plans, the economy, the wars, lost jobs, savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc .... I called a Suicide Hotline.

I
Had to press 1 for English and was connected to a call center in Pakistan.

I Told them I was suicidal and they got excited asking if I could drive a truck....

.

We're screwed
 
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angrydoc

Guest
I agree this thread is drawing to a conclusion with 2 points of view: one that feels that any selection criteria based on previous medical conditions amounts to stigma and one which feels that the Armed Forces has a duty to ensure those it puts very much in harm's way are in the best position, physically and mentally, for the tasks required of them.

These 2 points are firmly believed by their proponents and I don't see much compromise forthcoming.
 

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