Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Janet Jedlicka


Educational Status; Social Support


This project was designed to target the needs of students with psychiatric disabilities pursuing higher education. Kessler, Foster, Saunders and Stang (1995), noted that early-onset psychiatric disorders often disrupt attainment of higher education. According to Mowbray et al. (2006) epidemiological studies indicated that youth ages 15-21 years old had the highest prevalence rate of mental illness in 2005. These ages correlate with the conventional years that an individual may attend college. Consequently, the initial psychiatric occurrence of many young adults is experienced during college years. As noted in recent literature, increased supports are needed to retain students with psychiatric disabilities in college (Collins & Mowbray, 2005a; Mowbray, Mandiberg, Stein, et al., 2006).

An extensive review of the literature was conducted addressing benefits of obtaining a higher education, legislation regarding the rights of students with psychiatric disabilities, barriers to higher education, supports available, supports needed, and the role of occupational therapy with students who have psychiatric disabilities.

Based on the findings of the literature review, a Manual for Occupational Therapists to facilitate a study/support group with students was developed. This manual includes a) a description of implementing a study/support group b) a needs assessment section to determine group and individual needs c) guidelines for occupational therapists to facilitate group process d) outlines of topics for group discussion e) description of occupation based activities and f) outcomes measures to determine validity of the support group.