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Declaring mental illness as disability at university watch

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    Hi,

    TLDR: Already declared mental illness on uni application, got into uni, now have the option to fill in disability form info but feel guilty about calling my intermittent mental health issues a 'disability'. Opinions?



    I'm starting my M.A. in October and I'd like a few opinions on the disability forms I've been sent. I *did* select 'disability -> mental health' on the application, but that was to back up the reason behind my deferred deadlines in third year

    Now I've been sent some forms so uni can give me extra support, if/when I need it. I would fit under 'Mental health -> depression/anxiety/self-harm/eating disorders' in the form and think it would be a sensible idea in case any issues do occur, but I feel the term 'disability' is just a bit strong. I'm not ashamed of my mental illness, but I feel it would be a bit too far to call it a disability. While it's true that, many times, it is disabling and interferes with my daily life, I feel 'mental disability' when it comes to dep/ED/anx should be related to people whose lives have been truly wrecked by mental illness. I finished my degree on time and have held down a part-time job since finishing; despite having several relapses, I'm not *that* bad. I'm so stable at the min that my psych agreed we can do an experiment and see what I'm like WITHOUT antidepressants, so as to see if I could be bipolar (not being without meds would throw me off, if I am)

    This could just be my M/I talking, but I'm just not comfortable with stating I have a mental 'disability'. Though I know I could get bad in future and don't want to be left without support and/or back up. Ugh

    Can I please get some opinions on this?
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    I felt the same when I first applied to uni, I didn't want to call myself disabled and I only ticked the box stating disability so that I could get some support for my course. To be honest, after applying for DSA and all that was over I just put it out of my mind. My university is very supportive and help me out a lot, which wouldn't happen if I let my pride get in the way. The extra help, in my mind, benefits me so much that I am really glad I did declare myself "disabled".
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    My opinion would be declare it, definitely.

    I had very much the same worries, and still do, every time I have to tick the 'disability' box, because whilst I am very very aware that I have problems with my mental health, the word 'disability' somehow makes it seem so much 'harsher'.

    But it's just a wording thing - it's a cover-all kind of word that they use on forms like that, which just includes any type of physical, intellectual, cognitive or mental health difficulty which may affect your ability to reach your full potential at uni if you're struggling. It might be that you get on absolutely fine and don't need any extra support at uni at all, but ticking that box means it's there if you do need the support and that the support service are aware and provide support and evidence if your mental health does mean you need more time with a deadline, or give you problems with attendance, for example. I started off my MSc having declared a mental health disability (social anxiety) with very little support needed from the mental health adviser in the first term, but he gave me a reasonable adjustments statement just after Christmas when it became obvious that I was rapidly deteriorating with anorexia, and honestly and truly if I hadn't had that support available I could not have got through my MSc - it mean he could steer me towards taking time out (rather than having it taken out of my hands), deadlines extended and mitigating circumstances when things did become worse, etc etc.

    So definitely, definitely go for it. Just remind yourself, you don't have to use it if you don't find it necessary, but the support can be there if you do need, so long as you declare it.
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    I totally get the 'disability' 'thing'. I think it's based on society's attitudes as a whole, mental illness isn't considered a disability my most even though it can be disabling. My parents could not understand when I was sent a DSA form! And I think 'disability' leans towards more physical effects in minds view. BUT that all being said, do it! It's on there, so is clearly considered a disability & by going to my disability support office after ticking that box I got access to very helpful support that's on offer to help me through my course, a simple thing as a learning contract (informs my tutors, makes it easier to get extensions etc)
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    I would do it and have on my uni application. I hate seeing it everytime I log onto my school system but as much as I don't like it, it's there for a reason. If I ever needed assistance for whatever reason, at least my uni would be aware already and could assist me. It would be harder if I hadn't declared it in the first place. They aren't allowed to discriminate against you for having one, doesn't mean they won't, but it's against the law anyway.
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    I get what you mean. Although I've been diagnosed and taking medication for nearly ten years now and it has effected my life a huge amount, I still shy away from calling my mental issues a "disability". It makes me feel weak and I think of people worse off who really are disabled and feel guilty for using that term. But yes, I agree with the other posters here that you definitely should put it down. When I was at university I would have stood no chance at passing without support from the disability services. Just things like extensions on essays, doing exams in a smaller room, and having someone to talk to occasionally about my work/getting help with organizing etc it was really invaluable.
 
 
 
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