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Mental Health Services and Choosing a College: Striking a Balance

Must Do's Before Applying

Know Your Rights Before Selecting a College

    Research Psychological and Psychiatric Services on Campus

    • Most campus websites offer an overview of services
    • Be proactive and call or visit to make sure they offer adequate treatment tailored to your situation
    • Ask whether the services are free to students or if they are available for a fee
    • Find out how many psychologists are on staff and make sure the school employs at least one licensed psychiatrist. In the case of larger universities, multiple psychiatrists should be on staff.
    • Make sure the school keeps your records confidential from other entities, both within the college and outside of it

    Research Hospitals and Private Practices in the Community

    • Nearly all school health or counseling centers only offer short term care, then the student must find a practice in the community
    • Find practices compatible with your insurance
    • If you don't have a car, look up information on public transportation in order to get to the clinic or practice
    • Ask if they offer discounted rates or a sliding scale for students

    Research Disability Resources

    • Discover the breadth of disability resources the college offers for psychiatric disabilities, as they vary greatly from campus to campus
    • Inquire as to what specific services are provided, i.e.: test rescheduling, priority registration, reduced course load, class substitution etc.
    • Find out the confidentiality policies, especially ask whether professors and instructors are informed of the student's disability or just the accommodations to be made for him or her

    Helpful Hints

    Campus Counseling Centers

    • Counseling centers on campus typically offer excellent services when dealing with typical 'college' problems, such as: relationship conflicts, adjusting to college and academic problems. They also deal with anxious and depressed moods, substance abuse, and trauma recovery. Dealing with these problems is very important, as they produce added stress which may trigger the onset of an episode, or compound on a current one.
    • However, there are certain drawbacks to most counseling centers:
      • Again, they usually only offer short term care; the student must then find another place for therapy, usually a private practice. The counseling services typically assist in this
    • Most counseling centers on campus are not equipped to effectively handle more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety disorders etc.

    Psychiatric Care on Campus

    • There is typically a long wait to see a psychiatrist on campus
      • Try and make an appointment as soon as you can, possibly even in the summer, prior to arriving at school. This will allow you to see a doctor earlier and establish a set schedule
    • Nearly all psychiatrists on campuses take students upon referral only
    • As with the counseling services, some psychiatrists also have a limit on the number of times a patient can be seen
    • If you see a private doctor and your school's medical center has a pharmacy, check to see if they will fill prescriptions from outside practices. Many times certain medications are filled for free as a result of the student fees paid each semester.
    • Know what to do in case of an emergency
      • Ask about emergency procedures are during business hours at the psychological services center as well as with a psychiatrist.
      • A few schools offer a 24 hour hotline to call; however, most don’t, so be sure to have the number of a local hospital in case of a emergency during evening or weekend hours

    Campus Size

    • Smaller campuses can feel less overwhelming than a large university. However, there tends to be less psychological services on smaller campuses
    • Large campuses generally offer a wider array of services. Nonetheless, even though more services are available, the wait is still usually long due to the size of the campus.
    • If attending a large campus, try to join an organization, find a social group, and make friends, especially in the dorms. This will make the campus seem smaller and less overwhelming
    • Compare the number of counselors and especially psychiatrists that are employed at the school to the number of students on campus. This is a good indicator of how long the wait will be, and shows the importance and dedication the school places on mental health

    Making a decision

    • The most important factor is narrowing your search to a few schools where you can see yourself living at for four years, where you will feel comfortable at and feel that you will succeed while you are there
    • When looking at mental health services, keep in mind that you will need to find a balance
      • You will most likely not find a program that meets your needs in every aspect of your care
      • Keep in mind your specific condition and needs, and use that as a guide when making a decision

    Campuses with NAMI Clubs

    The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
    University of Vermont
    Central Methodist University, MO
    Ohio State University
    Missouri Southern State University
    Martin Methodist College
    Centenary College, NJ of Pulaski, TN
    West Virginia University
    University of Northern Iowa
    Indiana University
    University of Iowa
    East Carolina University, NC
    Purdue University, IN
    Wayne College, OH
    Central Washington
    Bowling Green State University, OH
    Bloomsburg University, PA
    Utah Valley State College
    Central College, IA
    Washburn University, KS
    University of Arizona
    Western Michigan University
    Louisiana State University                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Purdue University, IN                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Syracuse University                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Seattle Pacific University                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Fairfield University, CT

    Scholarship Information and Tips

    In today's world there is an extremely large amount of scholarships available to students. By utilizing online search engines, students can provide personal information and interests, and will then be provided with a list of scholarships they would be eligible for. Many search engines provide the option of placing 'mental illness' or 'disability' in your profile, and they will provide scholarships specifically tailored to those with mental illness.

    A few of the many search engines available are:

    FastWeb: a database of tens of thousands of scholarships totaling over $1 billion

    GoCollege: an engine comprised of over 8,000 funding sources and 60,000 awards

    FastAid: a site that claims to be the world’s oldest private scholarship database

    However, the majority of scholarships related to mental illness can be found at the state and local levels. Be sure to research local scholarship opportunities through your high school, library, and community. Also, find out what scholarships are available at your college. Conduct an exhaustive search in many areas including, the financial aid office, your specific college if you’re attending a large university, and your major. Many colleges offer scholarships for those with disabilities. Contact your college and ask if mental illness is included before applying for the scholarship.

    Below is a non-comprehensive list of national scholarships available to those with mental illness. Again, be sure to conduct your own search online, as the results will be more tailored to your specific needs and interests, and remember to look at the state and local level as well.

    Eli Lilly & Company / Moving Lives Forward Reintegration Scholarship

    Award Amount: Varies

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: Annual awards for persons diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder who are enrolled in high school equivalency studies, a trade or vocational school, or a two- or four-year college or university. Applicants must be U.S citizens, currently receiving medical treatment for one of the above conditions, and be actively involved in rehabilitative or reintegrative efforts. An essay must be included with the application packet.

    Applications for the 2010-2011 school year will be available October 1, 2009.

    Contact Information:

       Eli Lily and Company                                                                                                                                                         c/o Lilly Secretariat,                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PBM 327 310 Busse         Highway                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Park Ridge, IL 60068-3521


    The Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarship Award

    Award Amount: $10,000

    Number of Awards: varies

    Description: The Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarship is available to high school seniors who have an identified learning disability (LD) and are pursuing an undergraduate degree. Candidates for this award should be committed to completing a college degree, has demonstrated perseverance, understands how living with a learning disability affects one’s life, and will advocate and serve as a role model for others who are living with a learning disability.

    The  application for the 2010 Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Scholarship is now available.

    Please visit for further information.

    Chair Scholar Foundation

    Award Amount: $20,000

    Number of Awards: varies

    Description:  The National ChairScholar is available to any high school seniors and college freshmen who are living with a profound physical challenge.

    To qualify for a National Scholarship, ChairScholars applicants must:

    • Submit a recent photo
    • Demonstrate financial need
    • Have profound (serious) physical challenges
    • Have at least a B high school scholastic average
    • Have performed some form of significant community service or made a significant social contribution
    • Be under the age of 21 and either a high school senior or college freshman
    • Complete a 300-500 word essay
    • Submit three letters of recommendation
    • Submit their parent’s IRS Form 1040 from the previous year
    • Submit their SAT and ACT Scores, High School Transcript and Proof of any honors or awards received

    Please read the additional  application requirements and download the  application for the 2010 National ChairScholar.

    ELA Foundation Scholarship

    Award Amount: Ranges between $500 and $2,000

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: The Ethel Louise Armstrong (ELA) Foundation, Inc. scholarship is available to only women graduate students (Master’s degree or above) with a physical disability who is enrolled in the United States at an accredited university or college.

    Get more information on the  application process  and download the  application for the 2010 ELA Foundation Scholarship.

    Pete and Carrie Rozelle Award

    Award Amount: $5,000

    Number of Awards: One School or school-related program

    Description: The Pete and Carrie Rozelle award is given to a school or school-related program that attends to the educational and social/emotional needs of all children, as well as those with learning disabilities. The ideal candidate for this award is a school that is committed to serving the needs and promoting educational excellence for all students, including those with learning disabilities.

    For additional information, contact:

    The National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc.
    381 Park Avenue South,                                                                                                                                                                                                Suite 1401                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       New York, NY 10016-8806
    212.545.751                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Toll-free 1.888.575.7373


    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    P. Buckley Moss Endowed Scholarship

    Award Amount: $1,500

    Number of Awards: One or more high school senior

    Description: The P. Buckley Moss Endowed Scholarship is available to high school seniors who have a language related learning disability, demonstrate a need for financial aid, and have career plans in visual art.

    Visit,  here  for more information on the scholarship and the application process.

    Pilot International Foundation

    Award Amount: Varies

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: The Pilot International Foundation sponsors three scholarship programs. Candidates for these scholarships must already be or preparing for careers working with people with disabilities/brain related disorders.    

    • Pilot International Foundation Scholarship Program- undergraduate level students who are preparing for a career in brain related disorders/disabilities.
    • Becky Burrows Scholarship Program- for graduate or undergraduate level students who are either switching careers or receiving additional training in a career that helps those with brain-related disorders/disabilities.
    • Marie Newton Sepia Memorial Scholarship Program- graduate or doctoral level students preparing for a career working with children with brain-related disorders/disabilities.      

    You must be sponsored by a Pilot Club in your home town, or in the town in which your college or university is located to be eligible to apply.

    Find a  Pilot Club  in your area.

    E-mail to request an application, or for further information.

    Bank of America Abilities Scholarship Program

    Award Amount: Varies

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: The Bank of America Abilities Scholarship Program awards high school senior, high school graduates, or undergraduate students with disabilities (including learning disabilities) who are interested in pursuing a career in business, finance, or computer science. Must have a least a 3.0 and live in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia or Washington.

    Download an  application

    For further information, contact:

    Bank of America Abilities Scholarship Program                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         PO Box 1465                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Taylors SC 29687                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1-864-268-3363

    INCIGHT Education Scholarship

    Award Amount: $750 that is renewable for 4 years

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: Must have a documented disability.

    2009/2010 recipients have already been selected. Check back for information about the 2010/2011 application process.

    Contact Rob Pollock, Scholarship Manager for further information.

    Through the Looking Glass Scholarship

    Award Amount: $1000

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: College scholarships for students or parents with disabilities. Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2009/2010 school year, please check the website in January for 2010/2011 school-year application.

    American Association on Health and Disability

    Award Amount: $1000

    Number of Awards: Varies

    Description: The American Association on Health and Disability Scholarship is available for undergraduate/graduate students who have a documented disability and are pursuing a career in public health, disability studies, health promotion or a field related to disability and health.

    Download an  application.

    Contact  Roberta Carlin by e-mail or phone at (301) 545-6140 ext. 206 if you have any questions.


    Success in College is Attainable and NAMI on Campus is Here to Help!

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