Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Mental Health Condition?
Yes, the ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures such as medications cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your medications that help you function well do not disqualify you. You may also be protected under the Amendments which say that episodic conditions are covered if your condition would substantially limit a major life activity when it is in its active state.
In addition, here are some specific suggestions from our Board members about how you might adapt to the clinical setting:
- For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. Also check out your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.
- Connections with people with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.
- Information about how to get a job, contact State Vocational Rehabilitation Program or the Job Accommodation Network.
If you decide you want to disclose your disability and request accommodations, use this opportunity to highlight the unique perspectives and experiences you bring to your work as a result of your condition. You know what it is like to live with a chronic “invisible” condition. You know what it’s like to interact with the medical community as person who has had to be “diagnosed”, and you know what it is like to have a chronic condition that you have to “manage”. All of this can positively affect how you work with patients as they negotiate their interactions with the healthcare community.
Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.