Medical Leaves of Absence
Involuntary Leave of Absence
Making decisions about students who may be distressed, suicidal, or threatening to others are increasingly difficult for institutions of higher education that need to balance the interests of the individual and those of the broader community.
In recent years some schools have placed on involuntary leave students who have either threatened to hurt themselves, been hospitalized or experienced a mental health crisis. In some cases, these practices have been legally challenged. As a result, some legal standards have been developed.
Every state has a Protection and Advocacy (P&A) program that safeguards the rights of people with mental disabilities. When problems arise, the P&A can pursue legal, administrative and other remedies to protect your child’s rights. Find more information at www.ndrn.org.
The decision to impose a leave of absence should only be made in the uncommon circumstance that a student cannot safely remain at a university or meet academic standards, even with accommodations and other supports. The same applies to exclusion from university housing, which should be imposed only if a student cannot safely remain in the housing, even with accommodations. Information from mental health professionals may be vital in making this assessment and, in the event the school decides to act, students are entitled to “due process protections.” These include notifying the student of the action the school is considering and an explanation of why the school believes that such an action is necessary. In the case of an involuntary leave of absence, you should coordinate with your child and legal representative to respond and provide relevant information.
Returning to School
Upon returning from leave, school officials sometimes ask students to sign a contract and agree to various conditions before they will be allowed to return to school. Keep in mind that a school cannot require that a mental illness be cured or that any related behavior never recur unless those behaviors threaten the safety of your child or someone else.
A student who wants to return to school after taking a leave of absence for mental health reasons should not be subjected to more rigorous standards or procedures than a student who wants to return after taking a leave for physical reasons.
- Connecting Your Child with Mental Health Resources on Campus
- Contact Information Every Parent Should Know
- Exploring Campus Mental Health Support Systems
- Finding the Right Off-Campus Mental Health Professional
- Four Things Every Parent Must Know About Emotional Health
- If Your Child is Worried About a Friend
- Medical Leaves of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide: Warning Signs and How to Respond
- Suicide and College Students
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Proactive Parent
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What are Mental Health Conditions?
- What to Do When Your Student is Struggling
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?