Community College of Rhode Island

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Mental Health Disabilities

Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder

How this may affect student participation:

  • Most students under appropriate treatment may exhibit no outward signs of disorder, and may be quite effective as students.
  • Some students may be taking medication that adversely affects concentration and performance.
  • In some cases, students may develop physical or behavioral symptoms as a result of prescribed medication.

Helpful strategies for instructing students with Mental Health Disabilities:

  • Exercise patience and empathy.
  • Help students to follow lectures with three steps: >preview>lecture>review.
  • Provide lecture outlines and other handouts.
  • Use a multi-sensory approach when providing information to students. Increased learning can occur when material is presented simultaneously in a variety of ways, e.g. visual images with auditory descriptions.
  • Gain students attention when highlighting significant points by using eye contact, voice inflection, and body gesturing.
  • Provide concrete examples and practical applications of material whenever possible.
  • Review important points several times during the lecture; give assignments both orally and in written format.
  • Identify, in private and with sensitivity, inappropriate behaviors, if necessary.
  • Develop a positive student-teacher relationship.

*Understand that these disorders are often exasperated by stress, allowing for flexibility for the student to meet course objectives and learning outcomes may be necessary.

From a student with a Mood Disorder (Bipolar)

“The most helpful thing a faculty member did for me was help me study for a test and gave me a clear understanding of the notes.”

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Last Updated: 12/23/13