When you or a loved one suffer with a mental illness, planning is essential. Your crisis plan should involve other family members, your local public authorities, crisis workers, and professional assistance. You should always have the following mental health emergency information packet available. Make multiple copies and keep them at several places in your home or in the homes of friends or relatives where the mentally ill person frequently resides or visits. When a crisis arises, the responding authorities likely will not know the person or their past the way that you do. Therefore, it is important that you be able to provide them vital information. Providing this information can make the difference in the outcome of the emergency call. Specifically, it can assist the responding authority in determining that the person should be taken to a health facility instead of to jail.
College and graduate students suffering with mental illness may encounter new challenges once they start college or a post-graduate program. This is especially true because some mental health conditions do not manifest until a person is in his or her late teens to mid-20’s. It is important for students with a mental illness and their parents to know their rights and the resources available. Some issues that may arise include confidentiality laws, voluntary and involuntary commitment laws, student medical leave policies, and laws regarding mental health interventions, all of which have to take into account the policies of the educational institution, as well as Federal and state legal requirements. Two important pieces of legislation are the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). FERPA seeks to ensure access to educational records to students, and sometimes to their parents, while protecting the privacy of the records to the public at large. Under FERPA, campus personnel are permitted to share information from student education records with school officials who