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concerns about seeking mental health treatment


Hi there!

I don't think I have ever posted on this site but I am seeking advice from anyone who may have experience with something of this nature.

I am a new RN, and I have been working in a LTC facility since February. I really don't like it for a variety of reasons, but I took the position because I was 9 months pregnant while interviewing for my first nursing job, and by some miracle this place hired me. I started working at 3 weeks postpartum due to financial issues. I am currently looking for other employment, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

Since the birth of my daughter, I have had fairly severe issues with depression, anxiety attacks, and generally feeling like a bad mom because I did not get to spend an adequate amount of time at home with my baby. I also have some compulsive behaviors that have become worse in the last few months.

I really want to get help because I want to be the best person that I can be for my family. My only concern is that when filling out my board application (I live in ohio), there were questions regarding whether or not the applicant had been treated for certain mental illnesses in the past. I answered no, because I have never been diagnosed with or treated for any mental health condition as of yet.

My concern regarding seeking treatment is this: if I am diagnosed with a condition, is this reportable to the board of nursing by my practitioner? My initial thought is no, because of HIPAA, but I am not sure. Also, when renewing my license, will I be obligated to self report? If so, will this cause any action to be taken against my nursing license that would be visible to potential employers that could hinder my job search?

I don't feel that any of the symptoms I am experiencing in any way affect my nursing practice or the safety of my patients. If it did, I would most certainly put their needs above my own and seek treatment regardless of the possible repercussions. Given my current situation, I just can't afford to do something that may put my license at risk when I don't feel that my practice is compromised.

Thanks for your time and insight.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Hello, and Welcome to Allnurses.com.

I am a nurse with over 17 years experience and a case of bipolar 1. I had severe postpartum depression which got worse with each of my five babies and experienced psychosis with the last one, so believe me, you have my sympathies.

The way I see your situation is that you cannot afford NOT to seek help with your depression and anxiety. You have nothing to fear at the present time as far as your license goes; you have not been diagnosed with nor treated for a mental illness, and if your state is like many, the BON is more concerned with nurses who are being treated for the so-called "serious" mental illnesses, e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar etc. Honestly, if states refused to license nurses with anxiety and depression, there wouldn't be enough of them to take care of the patients!

That being said, you, your family, and your residents deserve the best "you" that you can be, and you can't be that person if you're suffering with postpartum (or other) depression and/or other mental health conditions. Yes, there is a stigma, but there is no need to disclose any illness to your employer; you don't give up your right to privacy when you become a healthcare professional. And you won't lose your license if you do wind up with a mental health diagnosis. In some cases, nurses must enter a monitoring program for a few years and be given counseling and treatment, along with some restrictions on their licenses; but generally these programs are geared to nurses who have a substance-abuse issue.

Please do seek help with your mental health concerns. You need to take care of YOU before you take care of others. :yes:

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Congrats on your baby! Being a Mom is nt easy....we make difficult decision everyday...((HUGS))

Please don't take this on alone ((HUGS)) seek assistance NOW!

Reportable or not...you baby deserves it's Mommy in good health both mentally and physically. Post partum depression is very real and can be very dangerous. Your baby deserves the best you that YOU can be!!!! ((HUGS))

poppycat, ADN, BSN

Specializes in pediatrics; PICU; NICU. Has 43 years experience.

Please get help now! I had severe post partum depression after my daughter was born & at the age of 10 weeks she was taken from me by the state & placed in foster care. I never regained custody of her. Because I'm a nurse, the BON was notified by DCFS that my child had been taken from me. The BON investigated & I had to meet with them (with my lawyer) but no action was taken against my license because post partum depression is not considered a lifelong condition.

i'm very lucky in that my daughter was eventually adopted by people who allowed me to be part of her life. She is now 24, married, and they have a 2 1/2 year old son that I regularly "kidnap" for grandma time. You better believe I watched my daughter like a hawk after he was born so if she had any signs of PPD she could get immediate help.

As esme12 said, it's much more important to get help for yourself than worry about what may or may not happen with your license.

BeachsideRN, ASN

Specializes in NICU, Trauma, Oncology. Has 7 years experience.

Call your OB. If it's just the baby blues or even mild PPD they can help you work through it. You owe it to yourself together help. You might have to report to the board if they put you on an SSRI or something but they likely won't revoke your license unless you are a significant threat to your patients.

vintagemother, ADN, CNA, LVN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych, Geri, LTC, Tele.

I too was afraid of having my medical records reflect a psych illness. But I found out my HMO safeguards psych care more so than other medical care. They don't send out appt reminders via mail and my info is indeed protected.

I don't know your states reporting requirements, as I'm in a different state. )-:

I will say that seeking professional help really benefitted me-Once I got the courage to ask for help.

Thanks to all that replied, you are right, I do need to seek treatment for the benefit of my family and my residents that depend on me. I have a counseling appointment set up in a couple of weeks...I was on the fence about whether or not I would go, but I think that I need it pretty badly.


Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,. Has 20 years experience.

Even if you think your feelings will go away, or are scared it will hurt your nursing career, or are afraid of what "people" might think, you

must get help. My husband was born after his mom was sure she was menopausal. She hadn't had a period for 18 months. She discovered she was pregnant when she was about 24 weeks. He was born Christmas Eve. His sister was a sophomore in college!

She had a problem with anxiety so no one was surprised when it increased postpartum. She developed a problem with depression very

rapidly, which was not seen as its own separate problem. Does that make sense at all? When my husband was ten weeks old, she tried to drown him, but her sister happened to drop by to bring her a meal for that night. From what I've been told, she had absolutely no memory of what she had tried to do. He was still alive but just barely. His aunt picked him up, rocked him back and forth until he began breathing again. His mom was hospitalized from that point until my husband was seven.

Please Please Please, see your OB/GYN or a psychiatrist NOW!

I am sorry that you are going through this. You and your family come first. You mental and emotional health is of primary concern for you to be the best mom and RN. Research what your state reports and get the assistance you need ASAP.