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Helping Students With Mental Health Impairments

A lack of good mental health occurs in all of us from time to time, especially in times of great stress.  It shows up in a variety of ways–irritability, muscle tension, crying, and difficulty sleeping.  Some mental illnesses begin at an age when many people are at the university. One of the main barriers to education for a person with a mental illness is the stigma and discrimination associated with a mental illness.  Promoting a safe and empathetic environment that is based on knowledge and understanding is the best strategy for overcoming this major barrier.  We see many students with Bipolar Disorder, Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and other mental health impairments.

  1. If a student makes you aware of their mental impairment remember that this disclosure takes courage and needs to be treated with respect.  DO NOT SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH OTHERS UNLESS YOU HAVE WRITTEN PERMISSION BY THE STUDENT TO DO SO.  If you need more information please contact the Disabled Student Services Office.
  2. Let the student know that you are open to discussing different needs that they may have.  Ask the student if they would like a meeting time to discuss any particular needs they have and how you can be of assistance.  Please allow them to bring a support person or the Director of Coordinator of Disability Services.
  3. You may want to consider allowing time extensions for those students who have recently been unwell. (With a doctor’s statement where it is deemed necessary.)
  4. Most students with a mental illness show a gradual decline in functioning as they become unwell.  If you notice this ask the student if he/she is ok or needs any help.  If the student refuses help, remember it is their choice to do so.
  5. If you have concerns about a student please feel free to call Counseling Services at 696-3111 or the Director of Disability Services at 304-696-2271.