Episode #12: Mental Health Academic Accommodations for College Students Explained

October 8, 2015
disability office college student success podcastWe’re going to skip Q/A this week because I have a great deal of information to present to you in today’s episode about accommodations for people with mental health issues, how the disability office works, and the real deal behind academic accommodations.
Story Time
Example of an awful on-campus mental health approach
Key Info for this Podcast: 
I’ve spoken to many students with mental health issues over the years about the topic of disclosure.  That is, formally putting it out there to your school (or job) that you have a mental illness.  There are many pros/cons to this decision, and it’s a very personal one for every individual.  I’m here today to discuss what the process of registering with the disability office at your school looks like:
  1. Look up where the disability office is located at your school.
  2. Go there and pick up a form they use to document disability, or download it from their site
  3. There may be different forms for documenting physical, mental, and/or learning disabilities.
  4. Get the form filled out by your doctor, and get it returned to the disability office.
  5. You’re now registered with the disability office! So what does that mean?
You can now request accommodations should you need them.  Some important points about accommodations:
  1. You must follow up with the office regularly re: accommodations request.  Some schools make you request once a year, others make you do it every semester.
  2. Don’t wait until the semesters almost over b/c you just realized you need an accommodation for your final exam. Many schools make you request accommodations prior to the school year/semester starting.
  3. You must request per class.  You can request the same accommodation for each class you’re registered for, but be prepared to justify why you need it.
  4. The disability office will not recommend accommodations for you to request, it’s up to you to know what you need.
  5. You might need professional justification (i.e. – your doctor) to state why need something that the school might not be used to approving.
What should you ask for?
  1. The most frequently granted accommodation for mental health issues: extra time for exams
  2. Extra time usually equates to “time and a half”
  3. Distraction-free test environment
  4. Be wary of the “extended time for assignments” accommodation.
  5. Note-taking services
  6. Certain offices will work with people with mental health issues better than others.
This is a pretty good comprehensive guide from Washington University. It includes a list of possible accommodations that you might consider requesting.
Online student issues related to accommodations
If you’re having a problem with a disability office that you can’t resolve at the school level, contact the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights:
  • Ongoing Schedule
    • 2 episodes per week for 15 weeks (Traditional College Semester)
    • 1st one (Mon) will be goal focused
    • 2nd one (Thurs) mental health focused
  • Email address: collegestudentsuccesspodcast@gmail.com
  • Link to thread on reddit to discuss the episode:



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