Does mental illness count as "mental disability"?

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
Kitt1918
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:59 pm

Does mental illness count as "mental disability"?

Postby Kitt1918 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:11 pm

I was looking at law schools' websites, and one school mentioned on their "Scholarships" page that special attention is paid to those who have overcome mental disabilities.

As someone who has bipolar disorder, I am wondering if mental illness counts as a mental disability. I am also wondering if mentioning my bipolar disorder in my personal statement or special circumstances letter would hurt me. If bipolar disorder does count as a mental disability, would the fact that I did not file for disability accommodations at my university prohibit me from mentioning it?

I ask this because my psychiatrist, whom I only see every three to four months, told me my freshman year of college that I DO have a disability and that to be successful, I need to ask for academic accommodations. I refused to do so, because I felt insulted. The disorder still does make things difficult for me in other aspects, however.

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Nightrunner
Posts: 5345
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 1:14 am

Re: Does mental illness count as "mental disability"?

Postby Nightrunner » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:17 pm

As to whether it would work for scholarship consideration: I don't know, but I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn't apply. If you get a chance to write an essay or something, you can probably build a case.

One thing to look into, though, is outlined in this thread. Scroll down a bit and read ScaredWorkedBored's post. Some state bars can be somewhat draconian about mental health history. Look into the state(s) you're thinking about practicing in, and plan around any problems before they can arise.

Kitt1918
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:59 pm

Re: Does mental illness count as "mental disability"?

Postby Kitt1918 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:29 pm

I read through the thread. I would like to go to law school in Texas (I am going to college in Texas now and am from there), and practice there in the future. I was sad to read that they ask very specific questions regarding bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. My dream was to work for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, but my illness disqualifies me. I would like to do some work in mental health advocacy. I was diagnosed and hospitalized when I was 16 years old. I am now 21. Now that I think of it, I don't know if it's necessary to write about my illness at all, considering that I currently have a 3.8 GPA and am in my university's honor program. I was so tired of being presumed as incompetent because of my illness that I got involved in a lot of things and studied well so I could prove otherwise. My psychiatrist, who does not know me well and only gives me medicine, has told me that I really shouldn't pursue law school because it will be too hard for me. Again, when people tell me this, it makes me want to try harder, and I would hate to move away from my current goal because of that diagnosis 5 years ago. Sigh. :(




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