The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Mental disorders disability, TCC support services apply

By Justin Gladney
People with mental disorders often are unaware of their rights under the law, a NE Campus audience was told April 5.

“How many of you know or have a friend or relative who has a mental disorder?” asked speaker Denise Hill during her Understanding Mental Disorders and Civil Rights speech. “Today, I’m going to be addressing mental health issues, mental disorders and how does that tie in or fit in with a person’s civil rights. Most people don’t know that they have civil rights that they can use.”

Hill, NE coordinator of disability support services, gave a brief overview on mental disorders and their effects on college students, including social anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, Asperger’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. The most common problems are concentration difficulties, lack of motivation and a fear of or abnormal hesitation to public interaction, she said.

The original federal law protecting people with mental disorders was in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“It provided equal opportunity and gives people access [to success] that other people [non-handicapped] have,” she said.

The act was revised in 1990 and made part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The revisions gave a broader range of qualifications for people to register for the civil rights benefits, Hill said.

The act defines a disability covered by the policy as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” said Hill, adding that examples of major life activities include learning, reading, speaking, walking, taking care of one’s self and communication.

The act requires colleges and universities receiving federal funds not to discriminate against qualified individuals with a mental impairment and to provide appropriate accommodations to registered students, Hill said.

To qualify for benefits, a student must first contact a mental disabilities coordinator. He or she will then be taken through the process, Hill said.

Hill explained that students at TCC should come to the campus disability support services office and talk with the coordinator about the disorder and its effects on a student’s life in school. The student must then get documentation from a doctor as to the severity of the disorder. Finally, the student would talk again with the coordinator about what accommodations would be necessary.

Student records are kept in the coordinator’s office, and the documents are shredded after three to five years, Hill said.

Records are never entered in the student’s employment history, official school records or any other documents that could adversely affect the student later in life, she said.

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