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I graduated on time and on the top back then, but after that I had some problem with major depression and anxiety, hence I have some gap on my CV and for a while, I either couldn't work or worked below my qualification. My world literally fell apart but now I am trying to get back to my old dream. Next year, if everything goes well, I want to go get a master degree.

How should I explain myself? Do I need to mention my history with depression? I am from a country where mental health is still really badly stigmatised, but I'd like to apply abroad. I am not sure what's appropriate to say and what's not. Thank you.

  • It is not wise to mention it officially in a CV or any document. Rather if asked in future, you can verbally or informally discuss it during interviews. I would not mention it. – Coder Nov 29 '16 at 12:26
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    @Coder I disagree somewhat. Many postgraduate applications (in the UK at least) have a separate part of the form where you can fill in your disabilities, and mental health problems are classified as such. This part of the form does not affect your admission (and, as far as I know, is not disclosed to the admissions committee), but is used by the university's disability office to help and support you if and when you begin your studies there. – astronat Nov 29 '16 at 12:57
  • Thanks for the answers so far. @Natalie will it reduce my chance of getting in though? I mean.. on one hand I am afraid they'll see me less than others with more experience and emotional stability, on the other it'll be an unexplained gap on the CV. I don't even know how to word it on the motivation letter, should I end up mentioning it. – Luna Z Nov 29 '16 at 13:59
  • Think about how much of your worry is being caused by the anxiety itself, and read @aparente's great answer below. Your mind is perhaps making this seem like a bigger issue than it really is. As Coder says, don't mention it at this stage- you can always go in to more detail further down the line. – astronat Nov 29 '16 at 18:29
  • data point: I was told specifically not to mention it for an application in France – la femme cosmique Nov 30 '16 at 8:43
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I am responding to this question as a senior academic from Australia, where discrimination on the grounds of a disability (https://www.humanrights.gov.au/employers/good-practice-good-business-factsheets/quick-guide-australian-discrimination-laws) is illegal. Other countries will have different rules and protections.

I see no reason for you to list this in your CV. If a gap is uncovered by an assessor or interviewer, then they will put this to you and seek clarification. It is reasonable for them to ask and it is equally reasonable for you to simply state that the gap was due to personal reasons not material to the decision. Where I work, this would be an acceptable response and no more need be said about it. If they press (and I wouldn't), you may state that the gap was due to personal health issues.

If they find out -- say, one of your referees inadvertently mentions it -- then the knowledge of your disability cannot be used as grounds for any decision that they will make.

If you get a spot as a Master's student, then part of the orientation program is a discussion of opportunities for people with disabilities. This is usually handled by another office independent of the academic department of which you are a student. In Australia, the nature of your disability and its management is protected by privacy legislation.

Good luck!

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In general, there is nothing wrong with mentioning a health problem when it is relevant, and that includes mental health. However, in this case, I don't see a particular reason to mention it.

People step off the hamster wheel all the time, for a variety of reasons, including their own health/mental health issues, having a baby, caregiving for a relative, being a trailing spouse and not finding the right position in the spouse's location, etc., etc. Sometimes a person is just plain tired after completing a degree.

Regarding the comment from @NatalieHogg, please note that after you are admitted to a program, you can still bring any disability you may have to the attention of the students with disabilities office.

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