The research team of the National Council on Disability (NCD) – a U.S. federal agency that provides advice to the President, Congress, and other federal agencies – has released the results of a national study on the experiences of students with mental health disabilities on U.S. college campuses during a session at the national conference of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

To understand challenges, best practices, and emerging trends of supporting students with mental health disabilities, NCD’s report, Mental Health on College Campuses: Investments, Accommodations Needed to Address Student Needs, relied upon interviews with students, social science researchers, mental health service providers, college administrators, college legal counsel, and advocates. It also targeted critical student subpopulations, including veterans, Greek life, athletes, graduate and international students, amongst others.

The Mental Health on College Campuses report is available on NCD’s website at https://ncd.gov/publications/2017/mental-health-college-campuses. Key findings include:

* Colleges are struggling to provide adequate mental health services and supports for students with mental health disabilities due largely to increased numbers of students with mental health challenges attending colleges and a lack of financial resources by the colleges.

* Students with mental health disabilities are often placed on lengthy waiting lists for mental health services – sometimes waiting over a month. Many schools do not screen for emergencies when students seek help.

* Community colleges are the least equipped to deal with student mental health issues when compared with state colleges and universities, even though they statistically serve the most at-risk student populations.

* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has not provided guidance to colleges on how to respond to students that pose a threat to themselves.

* Multiple restrictions in the provision of federal and college financial aid negatively impact the ability of students with mental health disabilities to complete their postsecondary education.

About the National Council on Disability: First established as an advisory council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy.

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(Taken in large part from the July 21, 2017 press release.)

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