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Mental Health Academic Accommodations Research 2012-15

Developing Documentation Standards and Guidelines for Academic Accommodations for Students with Mental Health Disabilities Attending Post –Secondary Institutions in Ontario

A joint three-year research project of Queen's University and St. Lawrence College.

Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Mental Health Innovation Fund.

Principal Investigators: Dr. Michael Condra, Queen's University and Wanda Williams, St. Lawrence College

Project summary

Background Issues:

  • Increasing numbers of students with mental health issues in postsecondary education;
  • Variations in documentation requirements in the post-secondary system;
  • Concerns specific to mental health issues: fluctuating symptoms (and functional limitations), temporary disruptions, impact of stigma on both help-seeking and institutional response, lack of mental health professionals, cost of documentation;
  • Lack of awareness regarding mental health, accommodation processes.

Project Goals:

  • To develop province-wide documentation standards and guidelines;
  • To develop training for students, faculty, access/disability advisors, student leaders and administrators, on accommodating post-secondary students with mental health issue;
  • To develop an information and resource handbook for students with mental health disabilities.


  • Data-collection from stakeholder groups, including faculty, students with mental health disabilities, disability advisors, administrators and campus physicians (n=2,327);
  • Consultations with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC);
  • Consultation with psychiatrists and family physicians;
  • Visits to best practice sites;
  • Literature Review.

Key Outcomes:

  • Recommendations report:  This document outlines the project’s goals and methodology; it lists, describes and provides a rationale for each of the 14 recommendations; it includes a Functional Limitations Assessment Form for Post-Secondary Students with a Disability; a Guide for Regulated Health Care Professionals; a Behaviour of Concern Chart for Faculty and Staff, and information on how the chart may be customized and implemented.

  • Eight videos on accommodation issues which can be used in faculty training and awareness-raising.

  • The information and resource handbook, A Guide to Academic Accommodations and Managing your Mental Health While on Campus, for students and families. 

Project News:

Fall 2015: A literature review undertaken by the research team has been accepted for publication and will appear in the Fall 2015 edition of the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (Complete citation: Academic Accommodations for Postsecondary Students with Mental Health Disabilities in Ontario, Canada: A Review of the Literature and Emerging Issues.  Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, Vol. 28 (3), Fall 2015, pp. 277-291).

October 22, 2015: Collaboration introduces new mental health accommodation resources, Queen's Gazette

March 11, 2014: Mental Health study will develop guidelines for Ontario's universities and colleges, Queen's Gazette 

March 26, 2013: Partnership to support students with mental health disabilities, Queen's Gazette 


Project Contact:  Dr. Mike Condra