Mental Health Conditions

This section of the Inclusive Virginia website provides information, instructional strategies, resources, and accommodations for adult education practitioners on serving adult learners with mental health conditions.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mental health refers to emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and mental illness refers to conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. While some people may experience poor mental health, around half of all Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness. Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia , etc. Research shows that mental health has an impact on a person’s overall health and can change overtime. In addition, research shows that while non-traditional, adult learners are more likely to have increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, education can have a positive impact on supporting learners in managing mental health issues and illnesses.

Adult education practitioners are not to diagnose mental health conditions and unless certified and are not qualified to treat mental health conditions. The suggestions and resources presented here are to assist in providing supports for those with mental health conditions.

Image representing improving mental health

Instructional Strategies

Incorporate social-emotional learning strategies & activities into the classroom.

Social-emotional learning refers to incorporating opportunities in the classroom that allow learners to explore self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making, social awareness, and relationship skills.

Resource for SEL in educational settings include:

Teach and reinforce positive behaviors & decision-making skills

These resources provide activities and strategies for integrating decision-making skills into the adult education classroom.

Use trauma-informed practices in the classroom

These resources provide an overview of trauma-informed care as well as how to integrate those practices into the adult education classroom.

Incorporate opportunities for learners to self-assess

Learners can be given opportunities to self-assess their own learning and barriers they face to learning.

These resources provide an overview of self-assessment and its role in the classroom as well as strategies and activities for integrating self-assessment into the adult education classroom.

Utilize Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL can be used in the adult education classroom to accommodate learners with mental health issues or illnesses that might affect their abilities to communicate, socialize, work in groups, complete timed activities, etc. 


VALRC UDL Tips: This resource provides guidance on integrating universal design for learning principles into the adult education classroom.

CAST The UDL Guidelines: This resource provides an overview of UDL guidelines and how they apply to various aspects of learning.

Utilize common accommodations

  • Cognitive support 
  • Calming/reducing arousal 
  • Passive symptom tracking (Breathing/Pulse)
  • Self-management

These resources provide more information on common accommodations for learners with mental health conditions. 

Mental Health Conditions Resources