Colleges say they’re seeing more students on campus with psychiatric illnesses. About 11.6% of college students were diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the last year, and 10.7% were diagnosed or treated for depression, according to a survey of more than 100,000 students at 129 schools conducted by the American College Health Association. Many mental illnesses, particularly depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, emerge during late adolescence.
Psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety can have serious academic consequences because they affect concentration, sleep and cognitive processing, say mental health professionals.
Institutions are required to comply with the American for Disabilities Act, but it can get complicated.
Schools say they can’t require faculty to adjust deadlines or attendance policies. And in some courses, like science labs and speech classes, participation is critical, but schools can push instructors to compromise with students.
Even with increased accommodations, psychological conditions are often not viewed as charitably as physical ones. Is it really an anxiety disorder, or simply a frail temperament overwhelmed by hard work and tough deadlines? And does a school’s forgiving attitude adequately prepare graduates for a competitive work environment?
“There’s the danger that we take too much care and when they hit the real world that same kind of support isn’t there,” says David Cozzens, dean of students and associate vice president of student affairs at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
This harsh tone was typical among the 250 comments to this story:
I am so sickened by this article I don’t even know where to begin…….what a bunch of coddled whiners this generation is…….if these students cannot make deadlines because their “karma” is upset ot they are having a bad day caused by the pressure of deadlines and exams…then they should be allowed to fail…as they will in the real world whjere they will not be coddled or catered to….there will be nobody to ‘understand’ just somebody in line to take their job and they will be fired…deservedly…this is not high school…you are in college to perform…under all sorts of pressures….performance requires that you deliver the goods when asked to do so…not on your own timetable…those who can will advance…those who do not will fail…and oh by the way…when allowed an extra 10 days to complete her report where is the fairness to the other students who busted their you know what to be on time? If she is that mentally oppressed and cannot play by the rules then she should simply not be there.
Ouch! It’s a tough world, even if official attitudes seem more humane than before. Parents and students dealing with psychological problems should become fully informed about individual school policies.
Some formal accommodations, like additional test time, are fairly standard across universities and apply to students with physical and learning disabilities, too. But, schools diverge widely on formal accommodations for flexibility with assignment deadlines, class attendance and participation. Some schools leave it up to individual instructors. Others intervene more directly on students’ behalf.
Some more tough talk from college professors over at College Misery
- Mental Illness in Kids: The Surprising Warning Signs (everydayhealth.com)