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Informing potential employer of personal mental health/substance abuse experience?

I'm on the hunt for a job and found a local treatment center that's hiring. They focus on substance abuse and coexisting mental disorders, which is the field I'm hoping to get into. The post instructs applicants to send a letter explaining why they want to work there along with a resume.

I have a slight dilemma. My educational background so far has been undergraduate work in education, which doesn't completely align with this type of work. I'm changing my major to Human Services, (which would fit,) but won't start classes until May, so it's not yet on my resume. My other work experience is not in this field either.

My big reasons for wanting to get into this type of study/work are based on personal exposure to these issues. I have my own mental health diagnoses and have friends who also struggle with such issues. My ex-boyfriend is an alcoholic/addict and I was there through his relapses. Given that, I'm pretty familiar with the disorders and mental health system. I find them intriguing and have compassion for those struggling.

So my question: would it be appropriate to mention any of that in a letter of introduction?

I'm pretty sure I don't really want to describe my own mental illnesses. I think it sounds decent on paper to mention "experience with mental disorders and substance abuse"... but what to say if they were to ask for elaboration? I don't know that it's professional to mention these other people, even though they provide relevant exposure.

2 Answers

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    4 years ago

    Experience with an addict is not experience with disorders or mental health systems...you need experience WORKING in those fields... Your personal experience is irrelevant, other than in the cover note; but be very specific that we're talking about a relative/friend/etc and not a client or patient.

  • 4 years ago

    When you write something like "experience with..." it tends to be interpreted as meaning that YOU have experience with those things. In this case, that's not accurate, and may in fact be an issue with some employers. Instead, it may be better to write, "experience with people who have..."

    If they ask for details in an interview, you can simply say that you have experience with people who were close to you who went through the mental health system, the substance disorder system, etc. No need for details. Then talk to them about how those experiences prompted your interest in these fields, and how their job is a good fit for you because of X, Y and Z.

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