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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration


Last Updated: 8/28/2013

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)

 

Ensuring Access and Inclusion in Higher Education: Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities

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Presenters

  • Julia Graff, Esq., is an attorney at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, DC, where she develops and litigates groundbreaking cases to advance the rights of adults and children with mental disabilities and to reform public systems.
  • Lisa St. George, M.S.W., CPRP, is Director of Recovery Practices at Recovery Innovations and has been instrumental in the planning, development, and startup of a wide range of peer-run programs since September 2000.
  • Dori Hutchinson, Sc.D., is Director of Services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University where she oversees supported education programs that help students with psychiatric challenges gain and retain their rightful roles as students so that they can successfully navigate college life, graduate, and live their lives fully.

Teleconference Overview

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” 1

—Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa and Nobel Laureate

The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” 2

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet

The significant disparity in education and literacy levels for people with mental and substance use disorders compared to the general population is a matter of serious concern. For people with mental health and substance use disorders, access to and inclusion in higher education is a central issue in achieving social inclusion.

Access to education impacts the individual in terms of personal satisfaction, wellness, financial stability, and overall opportunity. The community also benefits when people with mental health and substance use problems have access and support to pursue education, graduate, and secure meaningful and rewarding work that contributes to their becoming full participants in the life of their communities. The statistics show the need for action. Only 35 percent of persons with mental illnesses have a high school diploma, 24.8 percent have completed some college education, and 9.5 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or more. These data represent the lowest educational attainment levels of any disability group. 3

Ensuring proper access for students calls for a proactive approach from the entire higher education community. Most students with these challenges need more than the “reasonable accommodation” offered by the current model of disability services.  Administration; faculty; student services, especially those related to disability; and mental health care providers need a proactive person-centered approach that focuses on how to keep students in school and fosters a system of outreach and support. This outreach and education, along with enforcement of the law, positively impacts the system, supports students in need, and contributes towards moving to a more inclusive society.

During this webinar you will learn about the administrative, legal, and personal issues related to access and inclusion in higher education for students with mental health and substance use problems and about one university that is leading the way in ensuring that students have the comprehensive supports they need to stay in school and pursue their vocational goals. You will hear how education has made a difference.

Learning Objectives:

  • To learn how efforts within the legal system are working to reduce discrimination and ensure that necessary accommodations as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are available to all who need them.
  • To hear about an innovative university program’s person-centered approach that is having great success in helping students stay in school, graduate, pursue their vocational goals, and secure fulfilling roles in the community.
  • To understand from a first-person perspective how one person was able to move out of poverty and realize her dreams by pursuing further education which led to achieving personal wellness and working to assist others in realizing their goals.
  • To develop an increased understanding of the disparity in education and literacy levels for people with mental and substance use disorders compared to the general population and the significant impact of these disparities on poverty, health, and well-being.

Target Audiences:

  • People in recovery from mental health, substance use, and trauma-related challenges
  • Higher education administration, faculty, and service providers
  • Student services organizations
  • Offices of disability for colleges and universities
  • Current and prospective students
  • Families, especially those of current or prospective students
  • Policymakers or public officials
  • Leaders of community-and faith-based organizations

Speaker Biographies:

Julia Graff, Esq., is an attorney at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, DC, where she develops and litigates groundbreaking cases to advance the rights of adults and children with mental disabilities and to reform public systems. Ms. Graff represents and advises college students with mental illness to help them remain in school with access to the services they need to succeed. When necessary, she helps them enforce their right to an inclusive postsecondary education.  Prior to joining the Bazelon Center, she worked for several civil rights and other advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen Litigation Group. 

Lisa St. George, M.S.W., CPRP, is Director of Recovery Practices at Recovery Innovations and has been instrumental in the planning, development, and startup of a wide range of peer-run programs since September 2000. An expert in developing a recovery culture in systems providing mental health care, she has provided training, consultation, and program development for mental health systems as far away as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Ms. St. George has unending belief in the inherent courage, wisdom, and strength of people served by mental health systems. A social worker for 30 years, her career path has included child oncology social work, child welfare, family systems wellness, and teaching at the Arizona State University Graduate School of Social Work. She has written books and articles and developed many tools that support person-directed mental health care. She shares her lived experience and education in a way that inspires hope in people as well as systems of care.

Dori Hutchinson, Sc.D., is Director of Services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University, where she has worked for 28 years. In her current role she oversees supported education programs that help students with psychiatric challenges gain and retain their rightful roles as students so that they can successfully navigate college life, graduate, and live their lives fully. She is currently an Associate Clinical Professor at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University and the principal investigator on a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Garrett Lee Smith campus suicide prevention grant at Boston University. The program promotes mental health to prevent student distress, essential in building caring campus cultures. Dr. Hutchinson was the 2010 Armin Loeb recipient for her work in health promotion and recovery education for the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. Dr. Hutchinson provides training nationally to organizations and providers who wish to deliver recovery-oriented services and conduct relevant program evaluations. 


Citations

  1. Mandela, N. (2003, July 16). Lighting your way to a better future; speech delivered by Mr. N. R. Mandela at launch of Mindset Network [Online transcript of talk presented at the Planetarium of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa]. Retrieved from Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory Web site at http://db.nelsonmandela.org/speeches/pub_view.asp?pg=item&
    ItemID=NMS909&txtstr= education%20is%20the%20most%20powerful
      External Web Site Policy.
  2. Emerson, R. W. (1909). Education: An essay and other selections by Ralph Waldo Emerson. In Suzzallo, H. (Ed.), Riverside Educational Monographs. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  3. Erickson, W., & Lee, C. (2008). 2007 disability status report: United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Demographics and Statistics.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.