Disclosure of Mental Disability by College and University Faculty: The Negotiation of Accommodations, Supports, and Barriers


  • Margaret Price Ohio State University
  • Mark S. Salzer Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University
  • Amber O'Shea Department of Psychology, Temple University
  • Stephanie L. Kerschbaum Department of English, University of Delaware




Mental health, Disability, Faculty, Identity, Equity, Higher education, Survey research


High-profile shootings and student suicides have made mental health issues on college campuses a major national issue. College students are usually the focus of this conversation, while little attention beyond anecdotal accounts has been paid to faculty with mental health issues. In response to this lack of broad-scale research, a first-of-its-kind cross-institutional survey of faculty with mental disabilities was conducted. Respondents self-identified as faculty with mental disabilities, mental illness or mental-health histories. Results from 267 respondents indicated that nearly 70% had no or limited familiarity with accommodations, and even fewer used them (87%). A majority of respondents (62%) disclosed to at least one person on campus, primarily colleagues (50%) and department chairs (21%). Respondents felt most supported by spouses/significant others (75% very or extremely supported) and friends (51%) rather than colleagues (29%) and supervisors (25%). In our discussion of these findings, we offer suggestions for practice that will improve environments, rather than focusing on case-by-case "fixes" for those who disclose. We also suggest directions for further research into this topic, which is frequently mentioned (in both scholarly and popular publications) but rarely investigated systematically or on a wide scale.


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