Office of Disability Services
Documentation for Psychiatric/ Behavioral/ Mental Health Disabilities
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the term "disability" includes (a) a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; (b) a record of such an impairment; or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment. The ADA further defines mental impairment to include any mental or psychological disorders such as emotional or mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is frequently used as guidance for identifying psychiatric, behavioral, and mental health disorders however, not all conditions listed in the DSM are disabilities or even impairments for purposes of the ADA.
Diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional, including licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and certified addiction counselors (when applicable), is required. The diagnostician must be an impartial evaluator who is not a family member nor in a dual relationship with the student.
The required documentation report must include:
- A clear statement of disability, including DSM-IV diagnosis & summary of present symptoms
- A summary of assessment procedures & evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores, if applicable
- Medical information including the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the post secondary environment
- A statement of the significant impairment that substantially limits of one or more major life activities and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which the accommodations are being requested
Diagnoses of Psychiatric/Behavioral/Mental Health Disabilities may include, but are not limited to: depressive, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders; bipolar disorder, dissociative disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Individuals with these disorders may exhibit problems in:
- Cognition: memory, concentration, self-talk, time management
- Behavior: impulsivity, repetitive motion, pacing, maintaining stamina
- Perception: auditory or visual hallucinations
- Socialization: lack of affect, fear or anxiety, rambling or halting speech
- Medication side effects: drowsiness, fatigue, and hand tremors