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Psychological Disability

In the past few years the community colleges have been seeing more students who have a history of a psychological disability. While the vast majority of these students are stable and show no symptoms, others may have fluctuations in behavior and performance. Some may experience medication side effects or develop problems at college because they have ceased taking their medication or take their medications inconsistently. Other students may be experiencing emotional difficulties for the first time. It is important to remember that these students have as little control over their disabilities as do students with physical disabilities.

As is the case of students with other invisible disabilities, students with psychological disabilities are often hesitant to disclose their disability. They may go to great lengths to hide their difficulty due to fear of the stigma that often comes with disclosure. It has been the experience of the DSPS staff that most students with psychological disabilities are not disruptive. Usually students with this type of disability who self-identify with DSPS have been in therapy or are under medical treatment.


According to Title 5, psychological disability means a persistent psychological or psychiatric disorder, or emotional or mental illness.

A psychological disability must be verified by an appropriately licensed or certified professional (licensed psychologist or psychiatrist), and the accommodations for the students with psychological disabilities must adhere to disability-related support services defined in Title 5 regulations and may not include psychotherapy.

Characteristics might include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty tolerating stress
  • Episodes of lower level academic performance

Possible Accommodations

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