What are some of the functional limitations related to mental illness?

Date Updated

The following functional limitations related to psychiatric disabilities may affect academic performance and may require accommodations (Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 1997).

  • Difficulty with medication side effects: side effects of psychiatric medications that affect academic performance include drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth and thirst, blurred vision, hand tremors, slowed response time, and difficulty initiating interpersonal contact.
  • Screening out environmental stimuli: an inability to block out sounds, sights, or odors that interfere with focusing on tasks. Limited ability to tolerate noise and crowds.
  • Sustaining concentration: restlessness, shortened attention span, distraction, and difficulty understanding or remembering verbal directions.
  • Maintaining stamina: difficulty sustaining enough energy to spend a whole day of classes on campus; combating drowsiness due to medications.
  • Handling time pressures and multiple tasks: difficulty managing assignments, prioritizing tasks, and meeting deadlines. Inability to multi-task work.
  • Interacting with others: difficulty getting along, fitting in, contributing to group work, and reading social cues.
  • Fear of authority figures: difficulty approaching instructors or TAs.
  • Responding to negative feedback: difficulty understanding and correctly interpreting criticism or poor grades. May not be able to separate person from task (personalization or defensiveness due to low self-esteem).
  • Responding to change: difficulty coping with unexpected changes in coursework, such as changes in the assignments, due dates, or instructors. Limited ability to tolerate interruptions.
  • Severe test anxiety: such that the individual is rendered emotionally and physically unable to take the exam.