Managing Chronic Illness

Megan Pociask
Staff Writer

PC: Megan Pociask

While attending any university is meant to be both a challenging and rewarding experience, oftentimes students living with chronic illnesses find it to be an additional obstacle to their success. 

According to WebMD, it is estimated that nearly 7 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 23 are living with a chronic condition. Unfortunately, that estimation continues to grow. However, there is good news. The NACADA Journal states that, “The growing population of those with a diagnosis can benefit from developmental advising that includes validation of their particular challenges and appropriate intervention.”

As long as students diagnosed with a chronic condition are aided in whatever ways necessary, particularly with understanding and support from their university’s faculty, they have great potential for academic and social success.

The Journal of Adolescence has reported that for young students just transitioning into college, there should be an emphasis on the, “development of adaptive coping,” so that students can maintain a healthy mindset in the face of adversity.

Often that adversity can come from the stress of being a new college student and learning to manage life on their own, though, it can also result from a lack of understanding within the university itself. One of the many challenges of managing a chronic condition is the stigma attached to visible, though sometimes, invisible illnesses.

The Journal of Advanced Nursing reports that this leads to students having to face difficult decisions, “including the decision about whether to disclose the condition and suffer further stigma, or attempt to conceal the condition or aspects of the condition and pass for normal.”

This brings to light yet another struggle some students with chronic illness have to figure out – their ability to “pass for normal.”

On many accounts, students find themselves being questioned by faculty members and have to become comfortable with learning how to advocate for themselves.

One student with chronic illness even made a plea to teachers on The Mighty, a site dedicated to building  a community around such conditions, asking them to take notice and understand the implications of chronic conditions more seriously. 

Such implications not only include the student’s ailment itself, but often the side effects of dealing with such a condition. WebMD reports that, “depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness [and] that up to one-third of people with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression.”

Fortunately, UNC Greensboro has a variety of resources available for students who need accommodations. 

If you find yourself in need of university support for specific accommodations, you can visit 

the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services on the second floor of the Elliott University Center in suite 215.



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