Psychiatric Adverse Events in College

The Stresses of College Life

College can be an acutely stressful experience for many students. Many college and university students suffer from mental and emotional conditions. Some students bring those conditions to their higher education program, while other students first develop or manifest mental and emotional problems in their college years. The transitional college or university environment, newfound freedom students experience, fluidity of new peer relationships, and challenge of college or university studies can all contribute to those mental and emotional problems. The college years are formative years, the last big transition before mature adult life. The transitions that college students face in independence, personal health, personal accountability and responsibility, future hopes, and mental outlook can all destabilize a student's mental and emotional health. Statistics show that around forty percent of college students suffer depression symptoms, thirteen percent think of suicide, and significant percentages suffer anxiety, mood, stress, eating, bipolar, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. College years are, in relative terms, among the most hazardous of years to a person's mental and emotional health. If you are feeling stressed in college, you are not alone.

Acute Psychiatric Adverse Events in College

College life isn't just generally stressful. The college years can also trigger serious psychiatric adverse events, deep crises with which the college or university student must deal. Students in college or at the university can suffer acute psychiatric adverse events growing out of their preexisting mental or emotional disabilities, the new challenges of higher education, or new events occurring outside of school like injury, illness, relationship changes, death of a grandparent, death or divorce of a parent, or injury to or death of a sibling. One mental health advocacy organization reports that fully seventy-three percent of college students experience a mental health crisis, while nearly half of college students had a psychiatric disorder in the past year. Eighty percent report feeling overwhelmed, while forty-five percent report feeling hopeless. Twenty percent of female college students report sexual assault or threat of sexual assault, with all the attendant psychiatric trauma. If you have faced or are facing an acute psychiatric adverse event in college or at the university, you are not alone.

Accommodating Mental and Emotional Disabilities

When the question comes to student mental or emotional disabilities, colleges and universities cannot treat the academic environment as entirely a sink-or-swim proposition. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights confirms that federal disability laws like Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 extend disability protections to many colleges and universities, particularly those receiving federal funding. Colleges and universities generally recognize their obligations to accommodate a student's mental and emotional disabilities. The University of Washington, for instance, guarantees accommodations for equal access to education for all students with psychiatric disabilities. The University of Washington's policy lists these psychiatric diagnoses as examples of conditions warranting reasonable accommodation:

  • Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a lack of pleasure in ordinarily enjoyable activities, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, and feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Bipolar affective disorder (manic depression) with revolving periods of mania characterized by inflated self-esteem, creative and work productivity, and decreased need to sleep, followed by depression
  • Borderline personality disorder with both mood disorder and thought disorder symptoms including mood fluctuations, insecurities, mistrust, distortion of perceptions, dissociations, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and limited coping skills
  • Schizophrenia causing delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and difficulty with daily living
  • Anxiety disorders in which the student responds to thoughts, situations, environments, or people with fear and anxiety, disrupting concentration and in some cases including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, social and specific phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder

Psychiatric Events Leading to Disciplinary Proceedings

The college or university student's problem isn't simply managing the psychiatric disability and related psychiatric events like panic attacks, hallucination, insomnia, and depression. Those challenges are certainly great enough for a college or university student to attempt to endure. Yet psychiatric adverse events can further contribute to college or university academic issues and behavioral misconduct charges. The problem isn't just the psychiatric condition. The problem is the school consequences the condition can cause, influence, or exacerbate. School officials are not always trained in recognizing and accommodating psychiatric conditions. Indeed, they are rarely as knowledgeable and sensitive as they could and perhaps should be about hidden psychiatric issues. If you face college or university academic or behavioral charges relating to your psychiatric condition and adverse event, retain national student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to represent you in your disciplinary proceeding. Get the skilled and experienced representation you need to hold your college or university accountable to its legal and moral obligations to accommodate your psychiatric disability.

Psychiatric Events and College Satisfactory Academic Progress

Psychiatric events, especially those leading to hospitalization, treatment, and absences from school, can deeply affect grades, course completion, and course withdrawal while delaying graduation dates. Poor or failing grades, course incompletes and withdrawals, and delayed graduation can cause a student to run afoul of the college or university's satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy. The federal regulation 34 CFR 668.34 requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding to maintain satisfactory academic progress policies. Under federal law, students must move along in their programs if they are to receive federal student loans to pay for tuition. While SAP requirements are black and white, calculated largely by simple arithmetic, schools can make mistakes in applying SAP policies. More significantly, the federal regulation permits a school to allow for relief from the school's SAP policy if the student can demonstrate special circumstances. A psychiatric event could constitute such a special circumstance. Thus, psychiatric events can be both causes of SAP problems but also defenses to SAP warnings and charges. Your college or university will have such an SAP policy. Consider these examples of college and university satisfactory academic progress policies:

  • The University of Iowa's SAP policy setting forth minimum grade point, percentage of credits completed, and maximum duration standards while permitting appeals for special circumstances
  • Cornell University's SAP policy for undergraduates stating the minimum grade point average, credits completed, and maximum duration standards while referring to similar policies for graduate students in its various schools
  • City University of New York's SAP policy for all students, with similar GPAs, credits completed, and maximum duration requirements

Psychiatric Events and Behavioral Misconduct Charges

Psychiatric conditions and adverse events can not only affect satisfactory academic progress. Psychiatric events can also cause or exacerbate student behavioral misconduct charges. Colleges and universities around the country maintain student conduct codes like the ones at the University of Southern California, University of Wyoming, and University of Florida. Those codes regulate student behavior around things like vandalism, trespass, drug abuse, intoxication, disorderly conduct, theft, and violence. Related codes, like the one at West Virginia University, regulate Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct. These types of student behavioral misconduct are not always due to a student's bad character or poor socialization, or mistakes and misunderstandings. Psychiatric events like delusions and hallucinations can cause or contribute to property destruction, interpersonal violence, disorderly conduct, and other behavioral issues. Psychiatric events can so badly distort the student's perceptions and alter the student's ability to assess situations and respond appropriately, as to result in serious misconduct charges. If your psychiatric condition and adverse event led your college or university to bring unfair behavioral misconduct charges against you, retain national student defense attorney Joseph Lento to defend and defeat those charges. Attorney Lento is a master at giving school disciplinary officials the medical, social, and other context they need to provide students with appropriate relief from false, unfair, exaggerated, or unnecessary charges.

Psychiatric Events and Academic Misconduct Charges

Colleges and universities are not only concerned with satisfactory academic progress and student behavior. Colleges and universities must also ensure the integrity of their academic programs. College and university academic conduct codes thus further regulate student behavior around things like cheating, plagiarism, theft or concealment of academic resources, and disruption of the classroom. The academic integrity policies at the University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, and University of Oklahoma are examples. And once again, psychiatric adverse events can influence academic misconduct charges. A student suffering a manic, depressive, delusional, or hallucinatory psychiatric event in a class or exam could, for instance, face disruption charges. Students suffering from psychiatric crises may also cheat or plagiarize out of their distorted judgment, uncontrolled emotions, or deluded observations when they would never have done so without the psychiatric event. Psychiatric conditions and events can either excuse student academic misconduct or give it sufficient context to mitigate the charges and eliminate punitive sanctions in favor of counseling or other relief. If you face academic misconduct charges relating in any way to your psychiatric disability, retain national student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you defend and defeat those charges.

College Student Defense Attorney Available

You have a tremendous amount at stake in your college or university education. Unjust discipline for conduct influenced by a psychiatric event can delay or frustrate your graduation and spoil your reputation. If a psychiatric adverse event has contributed to your academic progression problem or misconduct issue at your college or university, you need a skilled and experienced defense attorney to help school officials recognize the special relief you deserve. If your psychiatric disability may interfere with your participation in your disciplinary proceeding, then you even more so need skilled and experienced representation. Your college or university should accommodate your psychiatric disability in any disciplinary proceeding. Retain national student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for your winning defense of unfair college or university disciplinary charges relating to your psychiatric adverse event. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation now or use the online service.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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