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Work visa and mental health
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:17 pm    Post subject: Work visa and mental health Reply with quote

From what I have been reading, Japan is quite "unforgiving" in terms of it's attitude to mental health.

How would disclosure of a "minor" mental health condition affect one's chances of being issued with a work visa?
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thomthom



Joined: 20 May 2011
Posts: 120

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So many people suffer from depression or anxiety at some stage or other that it is really not worth officially mentioning. If it's minor, as you say.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about cyclothymia?
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would caution anyone with this or a stronger bipolar illness from coming to Japan, especially if they require medication. Think of how that sort of condition affects the working situation -- sometimes stressful, depending on the person's personality and their experience teaching elsewhere, and on the actual work situation.

Not only that, but pre-existing conditions are not what one wants to bring to the national health insurance people. Even diabetes (I think) needs to be diagnosed again before meds can be dispensed. Diagnosing any mental health disorder in a country with such a different view on mental health (not to mention a language barrier) might be a bad experience.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2012/11/25/books/shedding-light-on-problems-with-japans-psychiatric-care/#.USAL0WeCWSo
http://www.japanpsychiatrist.com/Abstracts/TravelMed.pdf
Highly functioning bipolar
disorder, alcoholism, and even drug abuse (cocaine,
amphetamine) are not uncommon in some successful
expatriates, particularly in the finance industry. For persons already in Japan who become seriously ill,
this may be controllable and treatable as an outpatient.
However, if psychiatric hospitalization is necessary, then
unless the person is extremely fluent in Japanese and has
the Japanese National Health Insurance, the hospital is
likely to coordinate with the respective Embassy to have
the person repatriated as soon as possible. Persons who are
not easily hospitalized may be helped by SOS International
who can often escort the person (usually medicated) on
a plane back home. Use of the Japanese National Health Insurance only
allows visits to licensed psychiatrists (not counselors or
therapists), and these visits are usually limited to
10e15 min long because of the crowded nature of the
clinics. Even assuming no language barrier this is usually
not adequate. These factors result in a number of difficulties
for the Western person to receive adequate psychiatric
care in Japan making the availability of modern Western
psychotherapy and psychiatric care all that more important
for the international community in Tokyo.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My query is not about provision of healthcare or any related matter.

You can find more stressful teaching jobs in England than you will ever find in Japan.

The British Council offer a guaranteed interview to anyone declaring a disability. They are advertising a post in Tokyo.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This still applies:
"I would caution anyone with this or a stronger bipolar illness from coming to Japan".

Looking at it strictly from an employer's point of view, why would they want to risk problems when there are 99 other candidates waiting in line without such (admitted) issues?

Quote:
You can find more stressful teaching jobs in England than you will ever find in Japan.
I won't debate you on this one, except to say that you don't seem to be taking into account the language barrier here, among other things.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
This still applies:
"I would caution anyone with this or a stronger bipolar illness from coming to Japan".


Sure, but I would also caution you over overextending yourself with regard to advice on this front since you are not a medical practioner, mental health worker, or expert on the bipolar mood disorder spectrum. For instance, your mention of meds is way off target. To the best of my knowledge, few of those with cyclothymia are treated with medication.

Also, with regard to work-related stress, most serious teaching jobs I have had (in different countries, but particularly in England) have been totally impractical in terms of workload, number of hours and stress. In certain cases, these jobs pushed the boundaries of human endurance. To think that Japan could somehow be more stressful is a myth, at least as far as teaching goes.

Glenski wrote:
Looking at it strictly from an employer's point of view, why would they want to risk problems when there are 99 other candidates waiting in line without such (admitted) issues?


I'll break it down so as to be more explicit:

F/T British Council in Japan posts are almost NEVER advertised. Even P/T posts are hard to come by. Turnover is very low indeed.

They are advertising now and the deadline is tomorrow. The competition for said posts will, I imagine, be ridiculously high, to the extent that I would never be shortlisted unless I get a guaranteed interview due to a disability. This is due to the BC's equal opportunities programme where they positively discriminate in favour of those with disabilities. However, let's suppose I got the interview, got the job but then encountered problems over the work visa.

Which is better? Disclosure and a punt or missing out on the opportunity/ keeping one's head down?


Last edited by JerkyBoy on Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
I won't debate you on this one, except to say that you don't seem to be taking into account the language barrier here, among other things.


Yes, of course, that can be disconcerting. But having worked in numerous countries, encountering a language barrier is the norm rather than the exception.

I have studied Japanese upto JLPT N4 and am keen to learn more. It should be OK.
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1906
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Work visa and mental health Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
From what I have been reading, Japan is quite "unforgiving" in terms of it's attitude to mental health.

How would disclosure of a "minor" mental health condition affect one's chances of being issued with a work visa?


Why would you even bother to post this thread if you're just going come off as insulting anyone who doesn't tell you "yeah, it's all good!"?

Quote:
In certain cases, these jobs pushed the boundaries of human endurance. To think that Japan could somehow be more stressful is a myth, at least as far as teaching goes.


No need to be juvenile. And you might want to look up how to use the word 'myth'.
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 483

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've taught EFL for 12 years. My four years with the British Council were, by far, the most stressful. I only worked in one centre but I was widely connected with others near and far and the situation was very similar in many other centres. They pay you well but expect you to work for it. The BC has such a reputation that students also expect you to work for it.

I don't think disclosure of such an issue would affect your work visa. Once you have sponsorship and the BC working to process your visa, it should all go according to plan.

But I would take seriously what people are saying about local attitudes and language barriers (even in Tokyo) regarding your condition. In my 6 years there, I found the Japanese very unforgiving for anything that fell outside their (narrow) range of daily experience.

And if stress is likely to make your condition worse, I would reconsider applying for the BC.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Work visa and mental health Reply with quote

GambateBingBangBOOM wrote:
Why would you even bother to post this thread if you're just going come off as insulting anyone who doesn't tell you "yeah, it's all good!"?


I think you need to reread the thread from the beginning. I am not looking for one answer over the other. My question is about disclosure and applications for work visas.

It's possible to be an authority on various subjects. However, as a general rule, it's not considered sensible to advise others in relation to health issues unless you really know, i.e. you're a doctor or a specialist (or someone intimately acquainted with a condition, at least).

GambateBingBangBOOM wrote:
No need to be juvenile.


Sorry but I don't know what you're on about.

GambateBingBangBOOM wrote:
And you might want to look up how to use the word 'myth'.


No, thanks.
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JerkyBoy



Joined: 12 Jan 2012
Posts: 449

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sicklyman wrote:
I've taught EFL for 12 years. My four years with the British Council were, by far, the most stressful. I only worked in one centre but I was widely connected with others near and far and the situation was very similar in many other centres. They pay you well but expect you to work for it. The BC has such a reputation that students also expect you to work for it.


Yes, I noticed. I've worked for them, too.

sicklyman wrote:
I don't think disclosure of such an issue would affect your work visa. Once you have sponsorship and the BC working to process your visa, it should all go according to plan.


Nice one. I was hoping for some indication one way or another. You've provided it. Thanks.

sicklyman wrote:
But I would take seriously what people are saying about local attitudes and language barriers (even in Tokyo) regarding your condition.


My query isn't about that. I have never sought treatment abroad, in any case. I have only ever fully disclosed my condition to one employer and that was in England. It's not something that is particularly discernible. People just think I'm eccentric and off the wall or whatever.

sicklyman wrote:
In my 6 years there, I found the Japanese very unforgiving for anything that fell outside their (narrow) range of daily experience.


This is interesting. Care to expand? It's all good info.

sicklyman wrote:
And if stress is likely to make your condition worse, I would reconsider applying for the BC.


Yes, stress is not good for my condition and can trigger changes in mood. However, BC teaching jobs are not unique in terms of being stressful and like you I have taught English for about 12 years or so and generally speaking the more prestigious/ involved jobs were the most stressful.

Stress is not good for anyone and nobody should really sign up for stress. Other careers can also be stressful and I won't be moving into another career anytime soon.

Being a UK employer, the BC will be aware of the Disability Discrimination Act 2010 (?), which states that employers need to make "reasonable adjustments" in order to accommodate those with disabilities.

It's a "minor" mood disorder which is influenced by several factors. I used to self-medicate with alcohol, which sometimes made things better but later in life made things worse. I am now an exercise fanatic and along with cutting my alcohol intake right down, this has helped tremendously - they call this mood management.

Why would anyone want a job that doesn't allow them the time to exercise/ rest and live a healthy life anyway? Because it's a "good job".
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 1041
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JerkyBoy wrote:
How about cyclothymia?

I doubt it's a problem for your visa, but it is a problem. The stress and excitement of moving to a foreign culture will exacerbate the highs and lows. I won't say "don't do it" (you're a big boy now, and can make your own decisions), but make sure you have an emergency exit.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The company are the ones that will sponsor your visa. I don't think they have an obligation to mention anything about your mental health (anyone know differently?). If they've offered you a job they will want your visa processed without problem, so they wouldn't do anything that might threaten that.

It sounds to me like there's no problem with mentioning it to the BC to get the interview. But I wouldn't mention it to any other prospective employers unless it would also be advantageous to your prospects.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In order to qualify for a guaranteed interview you must have an illness, disability etc that has had serious long term adverse effects on your ability to work or on your daily life. The legislation is quite specific and detailed. So if the problem is as minor as you say, you won't qualify anyway. If you can convince them that it is serious enough for you to qualify, then you need to consider the potential ramifications of that. If you don't get this position, it will be on your record with the BC (and they do keep records) and could cause difficulties with future applications.
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