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So this is a bit of a touchy subject.

Does being committed to a mental hospital at any point (for the record, it was a period of less than a week over six years ago) disqualify one for service, officially or otherwise? I'm in the process of filling out an application and although my health in general and my legal record are spotless, I do have this major red flag in my mental health history. It seems a bit more serious than just depression and therapy, which lots of people go through, but I have been therapy-free since mid-2003, with the exception of a couple sessions right after I started college and had difficulty adjusting.

I don't want to go through this whole process only to discover I'm ineligible (and I'll be disappointed if I am, since I see this as an important part of my career path, not to mention a unique life experience). If I'm able to locate the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time, is there anything she can do on my behalf?

Comments

It shouldn't automatically disqualify you, but you'll probably have to battle to get cleared because of it. PC will also probably balk a bit at the fact that you went back to counseling for help in adjusting to college-- they tend to be extremely cautious when it comes to anything that shows the slightest difficulty in dealing with stressful situations (as they should, since PC is a very stressful sitation without the same support systems we have in the US, like family/friends, counseling, etc.)

To give you an example, I developed insomnia a few months ago, and my student health center requires that everyone in this situation goes to 3 counseling sessions before getting sleeping pills or other remedies, to make sure stress isn't the cause. It wasn't in my case (which I could have told them, since it started when I was taking a semester off and basically having the time of my life), but those 3 counseling sessions are now proving to be a giant problem in my medical clearance process.

If it helps, I recall a post a while back, either here or in the Yahoo group, from a girl (I think?) who had been cleared even though she had a pretty long history of mental health problems. She had argued that the counseling she'd received actually made her more capable of being a successful volunteer, because she had learned all sorts of ways to identify and address her problems. So I'm trying to do something similar-- i.e., explain that the counseling was required, not prompted by any specific problem, and while it wasn't ultimately helpful in terms of fixing the insomnia, I learned some useful things about dealing with stress. Depending on your specific situation, you might be able to deal with it the same way.

Good luck!
Part of the Peace Corps is learning how to stand up for yourself. You may want to find a therapist, go to a couple of sessions and then get him or her to write a nice letter to the Peace Corps saying that you are in great shape mentally and ready for the challenge. Also, you'll have to write a letter, so come up with a good explanation and reasons why you are right for them now. If you get rejected or are really concerned that you will, you can always do some other vaguely stressful volunteering job overseas and then reapply, as that will help prove that you can handle it.
50th poster

August 2014

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