Online forums/support specific to health care professionals/students with major mental health diagnoses/problems?
July 26, 2012 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Are there online forums/communities for support for medical professionals/students with serious mental health diagnoses?

Everything I find is non-specific at best.

I'm a student right now, working an excruciating schedule. Recently had a near-meltdown, my psychiatrist wanted me to talk to the school about getting accommodations, but the idea of disclosing anything makes me want to shrivel up and die. I'm in a brutally small program, and I see absolutely nothing good coming out of it. This has really made me realized that any kind of peer support would be great.

I was diagnosed with bipolar type I several years ago after a pretty intense episode. Been medicated on and off since then, on for a long time now with pretty good results. I wish there was, say, a forum or something or a community blog. I know (intellectually) there are other people in the same boat, floundering around and trying not to fall out.

There is nothing local to where I'm at, in terms of in-person support, and it'd be great to find something specific (medical and/or nursing, especially students). As far as online things I've found for students, they seem to all skew to 40+ year olds or undergrads. As a grad student in their mid 20's, particularly in the health care field, I don't feel particularly in the right place with either.

Specific to medical professionals/students would be great, because that's my environment. Also, just support in coping with the attitudes and norms in the medical field (eg, working 24+ hour shifts as normal) and how to negotiate staying healthy/well-functioning within that. How people do intensive studying when their head isn't always cooperating? Or if people ever choose to disclose health issues to their employer, or boss, or faculty, etc. How people negotiate getting health provider licensure, whether or not they disclose on those forms, etc.

throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know of any that are specific to medical professionals - remember that serious mental illness affects only a few percentage points of all people everywhere, and the demands of pre-med programs make it very challenging to get to the point where you can call yourself a "medical professional" while experiencing these symptoms. I mean, every single person I know with BPI or BPII took more than six years (the mean, the last time I polled a support group, was 11 years) to finish their BA/BS. This is not exactly the sort of thing that goes hand-in-hand with successful med school applications.

If you're in the US, please don't dismiss the idea of in-person groups. There's definitely NAMI - and in my experience, it's the best support group to meet people with degrees, many of whom are in the mental health field (realistically, your best bet for the faculty/employer questions.) About half of the people attending my NAMI group right now are mandatory reporters or will be when they graduate. Lots of med students and psychology grad students also join NAMI as a way of showing that they're willing to support people (including colleagues) with mental illnesses.

Oh - and don't dismiss the notion of talking to your school's counseling center and disability office. Just talking with them doesn't put you in any risk. For all you know, there's a faculty member in your program who's incredibly supportive of students with mental health issues. Kay Redfield Jamison's mentors from when she was a student at UCLA turned out to be really helpful while she was experiencing acute symptoms, per her autobiography.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 10:13 PM on July 26, 2012

If you are near a teaching hospital, you may want to see if they have a Resident Wellness Center. Even if you're not eligible for their services, they might be able to point you to some local resources. Who's prescribing your meds? Psychiatrists went to medical school- they should be able to empathize/see a heavy workload as more normative for your circumstances.
posted by alygator at 7:01 PM on July 27, 2012

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