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Mental/ emotional illnesses preventing German jobs

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“…this disease could cost Amelie a job and a brighter future because she’s from Germany.”

I have Crohn’s Disease. I’m also in college, which means stress and anxiety are not unfamiliar to me with the workload I get on a daily basis. Often, I go to counseling sessions to help my mental health so it doesn’t make my Crohn’s Disease worse. My best friend, Amelie, has the same condition. The difference between us is that this disease could cost Amelie a job and a brighter future because she’s from Germany.

Amelie attends a university in Giessen, Germany. She wants to be a teacher who works with children who are mentally ill. “Sometimes the children have friends that you can’t see. Others hear voices. It’s difficult sometimes, but I want to help them,” Amelie said. In order to ensure she keeps her job and makes the money she deserves, Amelie needs something called a “”.

“I can’t translate verbeamtung into English. It is so much harder than picking one, certain word,” Amelie said. She sums it up by calling it a “status”.

What does this status do?

This status gives people job security, extra pay and a higher rank. Amelie said, “If you’re a teacher and your school is short on money and they have to cut workers, teachers with this status can’t just get kicked out.” She explained that the only way an employee with status can be fired is if they do something illegal. The firing process is extremely difficult though.

In order to get this status, the person must be a German, have a university degree, be physically and mentally healthy for the previous five years and the list goes on. Before getting this status, all of the person’s records will be researched thoroughly to ensure that they are “healthy”.

But Amelie has Crohn’s Disease. Does this mean she can’t get this status?

“She makes sure she isn’t overweight or underweight…”

Amelie brought this up to me last week after realizing she was getting sick and unable to seek help because she didn’t want it to be on her record, and for the counseling she might want, she’s out of luck.

What if something traumatic happens to Amelie before she achieves this status? She answered, “I would travel to the Netherlands. They have the same medications I’d need for depression, but I wouldn’t need a prescription to get them. I wouldn’t get counseling though. That would look bad on my record.”

At this point, whether she agrees with it or not, Amelie is trying to ensure that she gets this status. She makes sure she isn’t overweight or underweight, she doesn’t seek help for the anxiety that comes around too often, she makes sure her Crohn’s Disease is secret and she works hard to make sure that the next five years of her life are as “healthy” and “normal” as possible.

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6 comments

  1. This is so interesting. I had no idea that systems like this existed. It sounds a little bit like a tenur in America, but with way different consequences and requirements. It seems like there must be an appeal available somewhere, but I guess different places call for different measures. I really hope that this problem gets brought to the attention of the government! 

  2. Before reading this article I had never heard of verbeamtung. As far as I know this kind of system is not allowed in the United States. I find is very unfair that just because someone isn’t 100 % healthy, they can’t get the same benefits as other people. No one chooses to be sick or to have an illness and on top of the stress of illness, not having good benefits at work is probably very difficult. 

  3. Very interesting article. Also pretty depressing though. Lots of people in Pueblo suffer from mental illnesses, and I have witnessed firsthand the terrible effect it can have on someone’s career. So applying a status like this will not help in any way shape or form. I really hope this gets changed soon.

  4. I found this article very interesting. Like the other commenters, I had never heard of verbeamtung before this article and you do a great job discussing it. There is a negative stigma attached to mental illness and those people should be able to get help.

  5. Lauren, I love your writing!! You bring such important topics to attention and I really appreciate this article.  

  6. Never heard of verbeamtung, although I’m all for it. It is unfair for people to have to disguise a mental illness.

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