Mental health disabilities

In the past few years the community colleges have been seeing more students who have mental health disabilities. These include mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, and other psychological disabilities such as obsessive compulsive disorders, schizophrenia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While the vast majority of these students are stable and show no symptoms, others may have fluctuations in behavior and performance. Some may experience medication side effects or develop problems at college because they have ceased taking their medication or take their medications inconsistently. Other students may be experiencing emotional difficulties for the first time.

It is important to remember that these students have as little control over their disabilities as do students with physical disabilities.

As is the case of students with other invisible disabilities, students with mental health disabilities are often hesitant to disclose their disability. They may go to great lengths to hide their difficulty due to fear of the stigma that often comes with disclosure.

It has been the experience of the DSS staff that students with mental health disabilities are not disruptive. Usually students with this type of disability who self-identify with DSS have been in therapy or are under medical treatment.


According to Title 5, mental health disability means a persistent psychological or psychiatric disorder, or emotional or mental illness.

A mental health disability must be verified by an appropriately licensed or certified professional (licensed psychologist or psychiatrist - to be elaborated in the implementing guidelines), and the accommodations for the students with psychological disabilities must adhere to disability-related support services defined in Title 5 regulations and may not include psychotherapy.


  • Extended time on test
  • Breaks during tests
  • Distraction-free environment during tests
  • Tape recording of lectures