Mental Illness
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K-12 CAMS for Students with Mental Illness

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Individuals with mental illness may experience any of the limitations discussed below.  The degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Not all students with mental illness will need CAMS (compensations accommodations, modifications, strategies) to perform in school and many others may only need a few CAMS. Regardless, each student’s case should be evaluated on an individual basis with an Independent Needs Assessment Protocol done by an Educational Strategist & Consultant or a Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN).  The following is a sample of possible CAMS for students with mental illness.  Other CAMS solutions may exist so check with an Educational Strategist & Consultant or Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN) for more information.          



1. What limitations the student with mental illness is experiencing?

2. How these limitations affect the student and the student's school performance?

3. What specific activities or tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

4. What CAMS are available to reduce or eliminate these problems?

5. Are all possible resources being used to determine possible CAMS?

6. Has the student with mental illness been consulted regarding possible CAMS?  Does the student know how s/he learns best?

7. Once CAMS are in place, would it be useful to talk with the student and/or team to evaluate the effectiveness of the CAMS and to determine whether additional or different CAMS are needed?

8. Do parents and school staff need training regarding mental illness?

9.  Schedule time to meet with the Educational Strategist & Consultant or Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN) to determine how to communicate needed CAMS with the school team and how to document.




Maintaining Stamina during the Workday:


        Flexible scheduling

        Allow longer or more frequent breaks

        Allow student to work from home during part of the day or week

        Part time school schedules


Maintaining Concentration:


        Reduce distractions in the work space area

        Provide space enclosures or a quiet work environment

        Allow for use of white noise or environmental sound machines

        Allow the student to play soothing music using an audio player and headset

        Increase natural lighting or provide full spectrum lighting

        Plan for uninterrupted work time

        Allow for frequent breaks

        Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals

        Restructure tasks and activities to include mastery of only essential functions


Staying Organized and Meeting Deadlines:


        Make daily to-do lists and check items off as they are completed

        Use several calendars to mark tasks, activities, and deadlines

        Remind student of important deadlines

        Use electronic organizers

        Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and goals


Dealing with Memory Deficits:


        Allow the student to record lectures and discussions

        Provide type written notes of each lecture or discussion 2-3 days in advance

        Provide written instructions

        Allow additional teaching and learning time

        Provide written checklists


Working Effectively with Staff:


        Provide positive praise and reinforcement

        Provide written task and activity instructions

        Develop written agreements that include the agreed upon CAMS, clear expectations of responsibilities, and the results of not meeting performance standards

        Allow for open communication to peers and staff

        Establish written long term and short term goals

        Develop strategies to deal with problems before they arise

        Develop a procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of the CAMS


Interacting with Coworkers:


        Educate everyone on the right to and importance of CAMS

        Provide sensitivity training to peers and staff

        Do not mandate student to attend and participate in all school functions

        Encourage peers to move non-activity related conversations out of work space areas


Handling Stress and Emotions:


        Provide praise and positive reinforcement

        Refer to counseling and student assistance programs

        Allow telephone calls during school hours to doctors and others for needed support

        Allow the presence of a support animal

        Allow the student to take breaks as needed




Maintaining Attendance:


        Provide flexible leave for health problems

        Provide a self-paced assignment load and flexible times for completion

        Allow student to work from home

        Provide part-time school schedule

        Allow student to make up time without undue stress or hardship


Dealing with Change:


        Recognize that a change in the school or class environment or of staff may be difficult for the student

        Maintain open channels of communication between the student and the new and old staff in order to ensure an effective transition

        Provide daily, weekly, or monthly meetings with the student to discuss school issues and production levels

2006 Claudia Lowe, SENC  ......  adapted from www.jan.wvu.edu