Students with psychiatric disabilities have a persistent psychological condition that can impair educational, social, or occupational functioning. Major depression, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder are some of the illnesses included in the definition which classifies psychiatric disabilities. Students may not be aware that there are treatments and accommodations available for those symptoms which interfere with their academic progress.
When you suspect a student may have a psychiatric disability:
- Speak to the student in private about your concerns; do not reference a disability which has not been disclosed to you.
- Recognize that there is still a negative social stigma attached to psychiatric disabilities.
- Acknowledge the difficulties the student is experiencing.
- Refer the student to Counseling Services (906)487-2538.
- Be sensitive that low self-esteem may be associated with the disability and with social attitudes towards the disability.
- Be aware that Counseling Services may need to contact the faculty member and/or T. A. to follow up on accommodations.
- If appropriate, offer to walk student over to Counseling Services to make an appointment; if not, notify the dean of students about concerns for the student.
- Ask the student if they have a disability; do express concern if they seem anxious, depressed or to be facing social challenges.
- Assume the student knows s/he does qualify for assistance from Counseling Services
- Assume the student wants to receive assistance from Counseling Services.
- Pressure the student to acknowledge his/her disability.
- Speak to the student in a derogatory manner.
This page was adapted with permission from material developed by the University of California, Santa Barbara.