Schools are seeing a rise in the number of students registering with their disability offices due to psychological problems, according to the Wall Street Journal article “A Serious Illness or an Excuse?” It’s still not understood what the reasoning is behind the rising numbers, but there are a few theories. The rise may be in part to the fact that there is more access to and more effective medication for students to manage psychological disorders allowing more students to attend school. Another reason could be that some schools are successfully reducing the stigma attached to mental illnesses and therefore bringing more students forward to get help.
Students who work through the school’s disability office can receive official academic accommodations, which allow students to ask for extra time on a paper, different testing conditions, or flexibility in attendance and deadlines. The option students have to make academic accommodations is compliant with the federal American with Disabilities act, however, educators are still concerned that by students taking advantage of accommodations they might be missing out on experience that will help them manage their disorder after graduation.
Some educators fear that students who take advantage of the special working conditions provided through the school’s disability services won’t have the skills they need to succeed in the workforce. “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 in the WSJ article. It’s a reality that these students most likely won’t have the ability to call in to work when their anxiety or depression without repercussions.
However, it’s also a reality that some college students won’t start identifying and treating psychological disorders until they’re in college and well into their semester. The accommodations provided through the schools in these instances offer students the chance to use the school’s services to get their disorder under control so they can perform better next semester without it doing damage to their academic standing.
“A Serious Illness or an Excuse?” by Andrea Petersen. 13 December 2011. The Wall Street Journal. Accessed on 13 December 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203430404577094330403235506.html