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  • Dewi1984
  • Explorer

    • 5

    • May 27, 2011, 11:51:13 am
    • Daejeon
Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« on: May 27, 2011, 12:51:53 pm »
My recent application for teaching positions was recently rejected by EPIK, and I have a strong feeling that it was because I had to list an episode of depression that I took Rx meds. I submitted an official report for it, but the report did not portray my issue in an especially dark or dramatic way at all.

Is there anyone out there that, after having disclosed a similar mental health issue on their application, has successfully secured a teaching contract? Can anyone offer any information about whether a person with a depressive episode in their history would have better luck applying for public or private school positions?

I read a post by someone indicating that this is something someone should lie about on their application, because they disclosed it in one unsuccessful application and then omitted it from their next (successful) application. Since I've already attached my official medical report in one application, wouldn't it be extremely unwise to lie about it in a future application?

Ironically, my past experience with depression is well behind me and I now think of it as just some fleeting college melodrama (it's practically a rite of passage for English majors), but the idea that this could follow me around for the rest of my life and hinder me from doing something I'm really passionate about is genuinely quite depressing.


  • lee-rae
  • Waygookin

    • 22

    • September 02, 2010, 02:57:48 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2011, 12:56:23 pm »
Not really an answer, but just a thought - perhaps the reason why they are so stringent about these things is that living over in a foreign country can be quite an isolating and full on experience even for the most emotionally/mentally healthy people. The culture shock can sometimes exacerbate existing (even dormant) conditions. 

Good luck with your application process.


  • Pearl4885
  • Adventurer

    • 25

    • November 02, 2010, 01:05:30 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2011, 01:15:06 pm »
Question for you- have you taught abroad before? I only ask this, because I have struggled with anxiety/depression off and on for years before coming to Korea. I did not report it on my application, because I have never taken medication for it. As the previous post stated, this environment can amplify these conditions. In my case, it definitely has. I am going home after one year, and more than ready. My anxiety and depression reached new extremes. I am sure this is not the case for everyone, but it has been a struggle for me.


Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2011, 01:26:15 pm »
My public school is in the process of finding my replacement for when my contract ends. One applicant stated that they had a suffered from depression. This immediately caught the attention of my co-teachers and as such hindered that application somewhat. Like the above post said, my school were worried that living in a new foreign environment may exacerbate the situation.

I love Korea, have been here 2 yrs and I am sad to leave but like most people, I did go through a small period of 'adjustment' but it only lasted a week or so. This place is a great adventure and with a little thought about what is in store you can hit the ground running both mentally and physically.

I cannot say whether or not you should omit any info on previous conditions but I would say to use your judgement.


  • meganekko
  • Adventurer

    • 57

    • July 04, 2010, 06:43:44 pm
    • Daegu, South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2011, 01:30:17 pm »
Not really an answer, but just a thought - perhaps the reason why they are so stringent about these things is that living over in a foreign country can be quite an isolating and full on experience even for the most emotionally/mentally healthy people. The culture shock can sometimes exacerbate existing (even dormant) conditions. 

This is definitely true, of course. The stress of culture shock should not be underestimated. But it's also true that anything constituting a "mental health issue" is seen in a very negative light in Korean (and Japanese) culture. There's a very good reason why most Koreans never get counseling or take depression medication, even if they might genuinely need it: it's totally taboo in this culture. Calling someone "crazy" is one of the worst insults there is. From what I've been told, the idea is that no matter what kind of stress or trauma one experiences, one should be "strong" enough to just deal with it on your own and not involve other people... or certainly not professionals, lest one get branded with the stigma of being "crazy." I think this probably contributes to Korea being number one in suicide rates. Or at least it certainly doesn't help.

Anyway, I've never heard of anyone who disclosed past diagnoses or anxiety medication prescriptions ever successfully getting hired in a job with EPIK or JET, I've only heard the opposite: rejections for honesty and acceptance for concealment. I bring up JET because on their form it states that if you have ever had any kind of mental health diagnosis, you must enclose ALL of your health records. Like, for your entire life.  :o As if! I think that's a pretty clear sign that no one's going to bother looking at your app if they see that particular boxed checked...

Best of luck to you no matter what choice you make. It's too bad you didn't get into EPIK, it's a pretty good program.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2011, 01:38:07 pm by meganekko »


  • jmw9887
  • Waygookin

    • 15

    • April 22, 2011, 07:51:47 am
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2011, 01:33:35 pm »
If you have a mental health issue that has caused you legal or employment issues, I can appreciate disclosing it and not being accepted, however, EPIK, GEPIK, your school, etc. none of these individuals is a licensed therapist or doctor. They seem to be going with preconceived/cultural ideas towards mental health (which doesn't make it disappear, just allows it to go  untreated). If you have been cleared by your Therapist/Doctor, etc to work, you never have to disclose this. Once you come to Korea, you can always go to one of the larger hospitals and receive medications and so on. If your Korean employer finds out, they may fire you. If you regress or have an episode, they may fire you. But, you seem fine, so I would just with someone else.


  • conorsean
  • Super Waygook

    • 267

    • March 10, 2011, 07:50:43 am
    • Who are you? The cops?
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2011, 01:55:48 pm »
I've taking Prozac on and off since my cousin hung himself and my dad passed away. I never mention it on the forms. Mental health issues are stigmatised the world over in a way any physical illness is not.
It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.


  • SunilMahtani
  • Waygookin

    • 18

    • November 15, 2010, 03:21:53 pm
    • Changwon City (Masan), South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2011, 02:03:02 pm »
This is an extremely sensitive issue as only one person knows how severe the issue is -- you!

My friend had a next-door neighbor who had a serious mental health condition and did not disclose it, was hired and then, once she got here, did not take her medication. She proceeded to literally "go crazy" in front of everyone's eyes, becoming paranoid and psychotic. This caused an inordinate amount of problems for friends, co-workers and her employer, and it certainly didn't help her get her life together. There was no one here to watch out for her. In that case, she absolutely needed to disclose this information since it wasn't under control. The employer needed to know what they were getting into.

Your case does not seem to be the same thing. Listen, every human being in the world goes through periods of depression, anxiety, worry, sadness and other "mental health" issues. If it's under control, with or without medication, I think you shouldn't need to disclose this. As many of the previous posters have pointed out, you will not get the job.

Let me just say to everyone reading this that no matter what you've been through in your life, or are going through, do not feel ashamed or guilty about it. If it's behind you, feel proud that you overcame it. If it's something you're dealing with currently, just take steps to change it, without worry or guilt. Never apologize for being human.


  • Jozigirl
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1045

    • May 03, 2011, 07:37:47 am
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2011, 02:04:56 pm »
I was treated for depression for four years (until 2009) and disclosed it on my application.  I think my doctor just gave a general report though and didn't get into too many details.  A friend of mine has had a couple of years of therapy and her application was successful but I'm not sure if she disclosed this or not.

My application was initially rejected (for three months) because EPIK had received so many applications that they decided not to consider any applicant who'd had major surgery in the last two years.  Since I'd had a thyroidectomy 6 months prior to my application, I was no longer an eligible candidate (despite 8 years teaching experience and a Masters degree).  However, I didn't get hired in the main EPIK intake (August) - I was hired in direct placement after the main intake when they have no shows or people who've already quit.  Ask if there's a chance that they'll still consider you for direct placement - that's when you're interviewed for a specific school but still through EPIK.


  • Spongeblob
  • Super Waygook

    • 428

    • March 03, 2011, 10:21:58 am
    • South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2011, 02:10:29 pm »
That chapter of your life is over.  Close the chapter and start writing the new, fun, exciting one.

If you don't get hired ... try another recruiter and this time don't disclose it.

I wouldn't say this to everyone but you know you are ready to move on.

Good writing.  :)


  • Boz
  • Explorer

    • 9

    • May 27, 2011, 01:21:52 pm
    • Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2011, 02:21:31 pm »
I think being honest is a great way to live. But that being said, there are some things that should be kept private. In the West small issues are looked upon like a minor or insignificant issue. But here in Korea these issues are blown up to amount to much more. Personal issues are not the same here. For example, after my medical and drug check results came back from the hospital, it was only a few hours before all the teachers in the school knew my results. I was very shocked that my personal information was reduced to the level of coffee break chitchat. After that, I never reveal anything personal because I know that it will be talked about. As far as applying again, I feel you have missed your chance for the EPIK program. But there are other programs you can apply for, such as, SMOE & GEPIK. Just don't tell too much. Sometimes less is more! Good luck!


  • dani23
  • Waygookin

    • 17

    • June 04, 2010, 03:00:33 pm
    • Geoje, Gyeongsangnamdo, South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 03:18:45 pm »
I am with EPIK. I disclosed a college bout of depression. My school hesitated, but eventually they accepted my application. I have now been at my school almost 2 years. I say try again, but like someone suggested, perhaps go through a different recruiter. I have a feeling mine may have fought on my behalf.


Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2011, 03:52:26 pm »
I wouldn't have told them. I'm pretty sure that depression is really common here, but there's such a stigma that most people here would only admit to/take meds for that kind of thing if it were extremely serious. Back home it's sort of a common thing and every other psychiatrist is so eager to proscribe you the latest drug that they don't really care how serious your problem really is... so this is sort of a culture gap-- and unless your depression was absolutely debilitating, I would have definitely said 'no'.

Give it about a year or so and your file will probably be deleted or something, and then try again... or look somewhere else and stop being so honest, because it gives dishonest people like me the edge.





Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2011, 04:28:59 pm »
1.  NEVER disclose it to any employer anywhere, but especially here.  I knew a girl who hired peeps for Epik and she told me they will not hire anyone with any history of any sort of mental / emotional illness (despite the fact that like 30% of ppl in the west are going through it in some form right now, 20mil scripts for Prozac last year in UK alone.)

2.  Don't be put off by the 'you are emotionally unstable as it is you will be even worse in an alien environment.' crowd.

It could be EASIER to live here as you 

a.  have your own private cave.  Back home many young ppl (in UK anyhow) can only afford to live in shared housing and anxious / depressive types like their own space more right?

b.  Will be ending up with a LOT more disposable income and savings in your my pocket every month (even though I had a good junior management civil service position back home I certainly have A  better lifestyle here and save twice as much as I was there) so can afford to save up and have more flexibility in the future to put you in a more emotionally secure place - hey money and financial security - DON'T KNOCK EM!!!!

C.  I have a friend whohas lived and taught EFL here for over ten years!  He suffers from long term clinical depression but he gets the meds he needs here no probs and there are some western counsellors / therapists in Seoul.

D.  You can still afford to visit your family and friends back home once or twice per ear if you really need too.

E.  It doesn't work out for you - you can leave anytime and be back where you are now!!!


  • kneukels
  • Veteran

    • 114

    • October 19, 2010, 12:47:12 pm
    more
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2011, 04:53:48 pm »
I was diagnosed with depression a couple of years ago and received treatment for about a year. Soon after I received the 'All Clear' from my psychiatrist I decided to come to Korea. I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but also I wanted to prove to myself that I was over my depression and that I am ready to rebuild my life and move forward.
I always said to myself that if I EVER felt that my depression has returned that I will fly home immediately to be with my family, whose support made a massive difference the first time around. (I also sneaked in an emergency box of anti-depressants and my dad - who is a doctor - is always on standby to send me some in case of emergency).
At times, life in Korea gets tough, especially the first couple of months.  I was tempted SO many times  to pack up and leave, but I am proud to say that I'm just crawling into my 8th month here. Even though I am not re-signing with my school, it's more due to the fact that I live way out here by my lonesome, and as someone who literally NEEDS social contact after my depression, it does get lonely. My point is, it's tough, but not impossible! (Also, my depression wasn't VERY bad, nothing close to bi-polar or anything else of the sort, but it was still tough)
For the OP, I lied about it on my application form. I did ask my recruiter beforehand and they said because I got an all clear from a psychiatrist that it should not be relevant and it does influence your chances! Hope this helps! Happy weekend everyone! xxx


  • hildydoo
  • Veteran

    • 135

    • April 04, 2011, 01:41:10 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2011, 07:45:14 am »
I had a brief period of therapy in College, and I mentioned it. I was never clinically diagnosed with depression (which still pops up once in a while, nothing as bad as back then) though. They asked me why I went to therapy and I said "stress" and my interviewer seemed ok with that. I did NOT disclose that on my form (to my knowledge, I don't remember anymore), since I was never clinically diagnosed.

Hope that helps!


Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2011, 07:57:59 am »
I have depression with comorbid anxiety. I didn't disclose it on my application, because it is such a stigma here. I've been having my parents send me my meds. And honestly, I find that I'm far too busy to worry about being anxious, although the depression creeps in every now and then when I feel homesick/frustrated. But it always passes.


Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2011, 08:06:59 am »
I believe the practice of discriminating applicant on the basis of mental or health issue is unlawful even in Korea. Although, I don't know how much this goes on even in Canada behind closed doors when its illegal.


  • w4z
  • Veteran

    • 205

    • November 30, 2010, 10:12:55 am
    • USA
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011, 08:27:15 am »
It's none of their business to know this.  Don't put it on your application.  They are not your doctors, therefore they do not need to know your medical issues.

I put my allergies on the  GEPIK application.  I'm allergic to eggplant and an anti-biotic called sulfa.  They made a hassle about that...  "You know Koreans eat eggplant right?", "Are you sure you can come here?" <--- actual questions that were asked...

I think they liken depression/ anxiety to being a serial killer. 


  • nzer-in-gyeongnam
  • Moderator - LVL 3

    • 782

    • August 07, 2010, 01:23:29 pm
    • Gyeongnam-do
    more
Re: Disclosing mental health issues/anxiety/depression
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2011, 08:47:11 am »
I know a couple of people who have suffered from depression before.

One was advised to state that her depression was due to stress in a job/study environment rather than saying it was clinical depression. That way it is over looked and understood because everyone has a problem when things are stressful.

Another friend, who is currently applying for a job with EPIK was in Japan when the HUGE quake hit in March this year, and she was living only 15mins (by shinkansen) from the worst hit area. She, of course has suffered a breakdown and a lot of stress because of it, and so she was advised to state that her problems were due to stress of the earthquake and living situations following.

If you can get a doctor to write a note explaining the circumstances as such, then its better received also.
"It's better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all!"
Teach this to your students... they'll thank you for it later!