Students with psychological or psychiatric disabilities represent a growing population on our campuses. Such disabilities may include severe depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorders. Although these conditions are “invisible”, they often impact a student’s learning experience. Psychological disabilities are often not well understood and accepted in our society, and many students with psychological disabilities have good reason to fear the reactions of others. Students report difficulties with focusing, concentrating, and completing work in a timely fashion. Reading, writing, and math may require extra effort and more time. Ability to function effectively may vary from day to day; in response to stress, students may experience an increase in symptoms. Medications help with some symptoms of psychological disability, but medication side effects (for example, drowsiness or headaches) can contribute to a student’s academic problems.
We suggest that you review our suggestions about learning disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; a number of these suggestions will also be appropriate for students with psychological disabilities.
Suggested Modifications and Accommodations
- Please make every effort to make students feel comfortable if they disclose their psychological disabilities to you. Don’t press students to explain their disabilities if they do not wish to do so; with the consent of the student, the CSD can provide you with further information.
- Understand that for disability-related reasons, these students may sometimes have to miss class, or even leave the room in the middle of a class. The students will be responsible for the content of any lectures missed, but they will appreciate your helping them to fill in the gaps.
- Discuss inappropriate classroom behavior with the student privately and directly, delineating if necessary the limits of acceptable conduct.
The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
College Guide for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities
The team at BestColleges.com realized those struggling with mental illness contend with a true disability that requires the full support of their learning community. They published this guide as a way to start a conversation about this issue.