Community colleges have been seeing more students who have chronic psychiatric issues.  While many students are stable and show no symptoms, other students may show more obvious signs of psychiatric issues.  Some may experience medication side effects or develop problems at college because they have ceased taking their medication.  Other students may be experiencing the onset of a psychiatric disability for the first time and may not have gone for any treatment.

Major Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia, and Personality Disorders impact a person's thought processes, making it hard to cope with the ordinary demands of life.  Although these are not the only groups of psychiatric disabilities present, they are some of the more common diagnoses seen at college.

Educational Tips

  • A knowledge that realistic expectations should be maintained to encourage full realizations of social and vocational potential. 
  • Awareness that a student with a psychiatric disability may frequently be treated with therapeutic medications that affect performance and speed.
  • An understanding that student behaviors which vary from the norm may be an indication that the student is experiencing a recurrence of symptoms and is in need of intervention.
  • A realization that students can assume full responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and actions but are helped when an instructor displays empathy.

Accommodation Examples

  • Encourage students at the beginning of each semester to discuss any accommodations in private.
  • Allow additional time for exams, if the disability interferes with speed.
  • Be aware of changes in behavior that could be symptomatic of recurrence of problems and refer the student for follow-up.
  • Encourage students to use relaxation and other stress reducing techniques, especially during exams.
  • Volunteer note-taker for lecture notes.
  • Reader for exams.