For college students, this is often one of the busiest, most challenging times of the year. Lot's Lots of exams, papers, projects and presentations in multiple courses. In Western New York and many places all over the country, the weather has been relentless; snow, wind, and unseasonable cold. This week multiple students came to me with issues related to stress and how it is affecting them, both academically and as human beings. This is true for many students, not just those with mental health issues, however those with mental health issues tend to be impacted by stress to a much higher degree. So what do we do?
The definition of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is "an impairment in mental or physical functioning that limits a person in a major life activity." This means that if a student has a mental health disability, the school is able to work with the student and the instructor to develop accommodations that provide access to learning. Each student and situation is viewed individually, paying particular attention to the manner, duration and conditions under which things are done.
Accommodations might include flexibility in attendance, extension of deadlines, support for getting organized and figuring out a plan for moving forward, resigning from a class to make more room to focus on other classes, as well as information about counseling, academic advising and wellness activities on campus. A common accommodation in many circumstances is additional or restructured time. Time management is something we all deal with, however for people with disabilities, it is paramount. This is a small sample of some accommodations. Having a safe place to go and discuss their concerns without judgement is something I hear many students say.
For students, dealing with stress both in school and outside of school is an important part of education. Ensuring that every student has all the tools necessary to succeed is an important aspect of stress management.