Introduction to supporting students on campus

Over the past 15 year, the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University has provided skills teaching and practical supports to assist students with psychiatric disabilities achieve their education goals. Beginning with the creation of an on-campus program at Boston University that focused on career planning and the later development of an education program model known as “Supported Education,” the Center has been a leader in emphasizing the value and importance of education for students experiencing psychiatric disabilities. Center staff have also developed resources and tools to help students to identify and acquire needed skills, supports, and accommodations to successfully complete a course or program of academic study. (Anthony, Cohen, Farkas & Gagne, 2002; Sullivan Soydan, 2004; Sullivan Soydan & Legere, 2004).

Building on the Center’s work, the major focus of the Higher Education Support Toolkit: Assisting Students with Psychiatric Disabilities is two-fold:

  1. to assist students in clarifying the issues that are hindering their academic success and satisfaction, and
  2. to assist students in discovering the skills, supports, and strategies that will enable them to overcome the barriers to achieving their educational goals.

The Toolkit is intended for use by a broad audience within the network of campus services such as disability services, behavioral health, and student affairs. The parts of the Toolkit include:

Part 1: Student Self-Assessment
Checklists (two checklists) are provided to assist the student in clarifying the health, personal, interpersonal and/or academic issues that may be hindering their success and satisfaction.

Part 2: Getting Connected to Campus Resources Campus Resource
Forms are provided to encourage campus service providers to compile a comprehensive and easily accessible resource list from which students can customize resources to meet their individual needs.

Part 3: Actions and Accommodations in the College Classroom
A Guide to Psychiatric Disorders is provided to assist providers with a better understanding of the common difficulties and/or limitations that students experiencing a psychiatric disability may encounter in class. Possible strategies that can be implemented and/or adjustments that a student may be entitled to are highlighted in the Guide.

Information and Resources
Organizations, websites, fact sheets, and articles relevant to students with psychiatric disabilities and those who are supporting them in achieving their educational goals are listed.

Return to the Higher Education Support Toolkit