A recent NAMI survey of college students living with mental health conditions revealed that stigma remains the number one barrier to students seeking help. The study also found that an overwhelming majority of survey respondents who said they are no longer in college are not attending college because of a mental health related reason.
What can help students living with mental health conditions to stay in school? If students connect with their mental health providers early to receive accommodations this will most likely prevent dropouts. However to receive these accommodations the student is legally required to disclose their mental health condition. Disclosing is very difficult in the face of stigma.
For example, a typical dropout story can go like this -- student has bipolar disorder, student is aware of the stigma around their illness and wants to fit in, student doesn’t receive accommodations because they have to disclose their diagnosis, student stops attending class because they are not taking care of themselves.
The survey respondents stressed that relieving stigma starts with campus and peer support and awareness. The mental health services should not only focus on the student with the mental health condition but the education of peers to reduce stigma.
Fountain House’s College ReEntry program focuses on this essential support network for our students who are getting back on track and back to school. To learn more: http://collegereentry.org/what-we-offer/