PREDICTING COLLEGE ADAPTATION AMONG STUDENTS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES
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The number of college students with psychiatric disabilities has been growing steadily in higher education in recent years. Most of these students choose not to disclose their mental health conditions and do not register with disability services. Thus, little is known about the subjective experiences of these students in their college lives. This study seeks to identify college students with psychiatric disabilities and to explore the factors predicting college adaptation among these students. Participants in the study were 292 college students with psychiatric disabilities who completed at least one semester in a large mid-Atlantic University. Participants completed an on-line survey of college adaptation, internalized stigma, social supports, and coping strategies. With hierarchical multiple regression analyses, results of the study suggest that internalized stigma of mental illness has significant relationships with college adaptation. Supports from different sources may play different roles in adaptation to college. Family support was found to be associated with academic adjustment and personal-emotional adjustment, while support from friends was significantly related to better social adjustment and attachment. Use of coping strategies was also found to be predictive of college adaptation. Greater use of seeking support and less use of venting and self-distraction are associated with better academic adjustment. Particularly, self-blame coping was negatively related to all three types of psychosocial adaptation. The current study suggests that interventions that reduce internalized stigma and increase use of effective coping strategies should be developed and implemented in college. Collaboration among special educators in middle schools, families, and college disability services staff is also addressed. Finally, efforts should be made to create services that meet students' needs and increase their willingness to understand and use available resources.