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Students with Disabilities

Accommodating Students with Emotional or Psychiatric Disabilities

If a student confides in you about personal problem that you suspect may be an undiagnosed emotional or psychiatric illness, refer the student to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Student Health, the Office of the Dean of Students, or the LNEC. Be sensitive about referrals. To some people, the suggestion that they see a professional counselor is stigmatizing. Demystify the process by emphasizing that recognizing one’s need for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and by explaining that many people seek counseling occasionally. If a student seems ambivalent about making an appointment, simplify the procedure by writing down the phone number of the Office of the Dean of Students, CAPS, LNEC, or by telephoning yourself for basic information.

If a student has been diagnosed with an emotional or psychiatric illness (e.g., clinical depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorder, arrested alcoholism, etc.), he or she needs special consideration, whether the illness is transitory, genetic, or chronic. A student with emotional disabilities may experience difficulties with fatigue, attention, organization, and cognitive processing, or other complications that affect his/her academic performance. Some students miss classes, forget deadlines, or become very withdrawn as a result of their illness. With appropriate documentation, the LNEC can approve accommodations for psychiatric disabilities. Such accommodations may include

  • making reasonable allowances for unpredictable absences,
  • negotiating an achievable timeline for missed assignments, or
  • providing extended time for exams.

Contact the LNEC for other suggestions of reasonable accommodations. If you have any questions about working with a student with an emotional illness, contact CAPS, the LNEC, or Mental Health for assistance.