Mental Health Disclosures

Any thoughts on mandatory disclosures for mental diagnoses? I’m struggling with the Bar Admissions committee, who wants all my psych and hospitalization records so they can examine them and determine if I’m “fit” to practice law.

To me, it seems like an incredible perversion of the system– what you disclose with your doctors is confidential to facilitate accurate treatment. These kinds of mandatory disclosures put that confidentiality in jeopardy.

And to be honest, I’m scared to get the help I need because I’ll have to disclose it to be admitted to practice. Not being admitted = not licensed= no job = $100000+ in debt.

Is this perverse or am I crazy?

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12 responses to “Mental Health Disclosures

  • CombatBabe

    I’ve heard you can’t be a cop if you’re bipolar, but I’ve never heard you couldn’t be a lawyer. Are there any people you know who practice law now that you can discuss this with? I wish I could help you, but I have no idea on that stuff. :/

    • gmercier4388

      You can definitely be a lawyer with bipolar. The problem is that for some reason I got singled out to be further investigated to determine my fitness to practice (Post forthcoming). This is especially dangerous to me because I’ve had two hospitalizations this last year (but held down a job and passed law school!) and the committee wants all the psych notes from all the to determine whether me, as an individual, possesses the requisite “character and fitness.” It sickens me.

      • CombatBabe

        Oh damn, that IS messed up and you’re not crazy for thinking so. I wouldn’t want to hand over that information, especially when you don’t know what’s in it. Now if it was just notes from a psych who knows you, it’s a bit safer, but from a hospital that doesn’t know you from Adam. Jeeze. That’s just not cool. I’m sorry they are putting you through this.

      • gmercier4388

        I just really hope that license be after this BS or they’ll be looking at an Americans with a disabilities act suit ,..,

  • Gretchen Getsinger

    Wow, between a rock and a hard place…. Do you have a trusted mental health professional who can help you with this problem?

  • cabrogal

    Well, it’s perverse and you’re crazy ;).

    I can see a case for mental health screening in some situations. For example epileptics aren’t supposed to drive or operate heavy machinery (though people with heart conditions can – go figure).

    Personally I decided in my late teens that I shouldn’t drive cars because of my mood swings and have only ever held motorcycle licences (if I lose the plot and have an accident on a bike the only person likely to be seriously hurt is me).

    But mostly this looks like stigmatisation and invasion of privacy.

    If I was in your position I’d exercise those lawyer neurons (I’m sure they’ll find a cure someday šŸ˜‰ ) and dig my heels in. If they insisted I’d bring an anti-discrimination case against the Bar Committee.

    I’m pretty contrarian and belligerent though.
    And I’ve never had a $100K debt hanging over my head.

  • napperscompanion

    It seems like there should be other ways to establish a person’s fitness to practice law. Doesn’t seem like the purview of the Bar Association to evaluate a candidates mental health history. Just my take. Peace, John

    • gmercier4388

      I completely agree! If a person is competent enough to finish law school and pass the bar exam (which is very difficult in my state) then that should be evidence enough of competency. I hate the fact that I have to disclose my confidential therapy and psychiatric treatment records for some unknown third party to judge me. Grrrrr…..

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