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The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health recently learned that one in five Americans has some form of mental illness in any given six month period.

With appropriate treatment, the vast majority of psychological disorders are effectively managed.

Treatment, which often combines medications and psychotherapy, can effectively stop acute symptoms in 80 percent of those living with schizophrenia, treat phobic disorders, and halt the downward spiral of approximately 90 percent of those living with depressive disorders.

The greatest problems related to providing educational support services to students with a history of psychological disabilities result from misconceptions and stigmas about the illness. As a result, college faculty and staff are often reluctant to approach students because of fears that students are very fragile or could be violent. In reality, people with psychological disabilities do not commit more violent crimes than the rest of the population (U.S. National Institute of Mental Health).

Although most students with psychological disabilities never draw attention to themselves by behaving disruptively, a few do because their symptoms are more persistent and cyclical. Many experience periods in which "holding it together" becomes more difficult. Disciplinary issues should not be confused with mental health issues. All students, including students with psychological disabilities, have the responsibility to meet the Fordham University Student Polices and Procedures by adapting behavior to the educational environment.


Nervousness, agitation, unpredictable, or inappropriate comments.

High levels or irritability including aggressive or abusive behavior.

Lack of energy.

Marked changes in personal hygiene.

Bizarre or strange behavior.

Sadness or fearfulness.

Excessive weight loss or gain.


Avoidance or withdrawal behavior.


Inability to make decisions.


Note: There is a great individual variation in the possible effects of a psychological disability may have on an individual and most college students may exhibit some but not all of the following functional limitations.

Cognitive Limitations

Short term memory problems

Time Management

Self talk (fears, failure, panic)

Extreme self-absorption

Concentration problems

Screening environmental stimuli


Behavioral/Physical Limitations


Repetitive motion

Self talk (influences behavior)


Maintaining stamina

Perceptual Limitations

Auditory and visual hallucinations
Psycho-Social Limitations

Lack of affect

Speech may be rambling, halting, weak, or pressured

Feelings of fear or anxiety

Initiating interpersonal contact

Side Effects of Medication




Blurred vision

Hand tremors

EXAMPLES OF REASONABLE ACADEMIC ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WTH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISABILITIES: Students will present you with an accommodation letter each semester describing the accommodations that have been approved for them from the Office of Disability Services.  Please note not all examples of accommodations will be approved for individual students as accommodations are based upon the individual's disability and their supporting documentation.

Cognitive Accommodations

Encourage disclosure of functional limitations

Provide extra time on assignments and exams

Provide a private and quiet test taking environment

Provide advance syllabus

Provide alternative test formats

Provide alternative seating arrangements

Provide access to instructors' office hours

Behavioral/Physical Accommodations

Provide alternative seating arrangements

Allow for breaks during instruction

Provide honest feedback when behavior is inappropriate

Talk about alternative behaviors

Provide extra time on exams

Provide alternative test environment

Perceptual Accommodations

Elicit volunteer note takers

Allow tape recording of lectures

Provide honest feedback when behavior is inappropriate

Use University Conduct Code when appropriate

Psycho-Social Accommodations

Provide access to a liaison support person

Provide opportunities to meet peers with and without disabilities

Assist with completing forms

Refer to campus and community resources

Provide access to mentoring

Allow less than full time involvement in program


Assistance with campus orientation, registration, etc.

Assistance with choosing class schedule.

Extended time for exams.

Change of location for exams.

Note takers, readers, tape recorders.

Modification in seating arrangements (near door for frequent breaks).

Extension of time for projects.

Time management and study skills assistance.


Provide syllabus, textbook, and reading lists early.

Allow beverages during class and exams. Some medications dry the mouth.

Provide writing assignments as one alternative to oral presentations.

Provide feedback frequently on academic performance.

Allow flexibility in attendance requirements in case of hospitalization/crisis.

Consider grade of incomplete or late withdrawals in the event of prolonged illness related absences.

Provide outline of lectures.

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