In May "Christine Jones" stood before a group of peers and
staff from the Education Plus program to express her gratitude a week after
receiving her associate's degree from the Community College of
Education Plus is a supported-education program offering students with
mental illness the academic and psychosocial support they need to reach their
educational goals (see article above).
Without Education Plus, she acknowledged, "I'm not sure I could have
The confidence she gained through the program enabled her to go from"
waking up and watching TV all day to earning good grades and acting in
a play at college."
Jones, 46, told Psychiatric News that she entered college as a freshman at
Drexel University in 1975.
High school had not been a good experience for her, she admitted. "I
was depressed. After high school, I thought college would be the
answer." Her depression worsened after she received a failing grade, and
she began to withdraw from her classes before she eventually stopped taking
Jones, who has bipolar disorder, said that for years after she left school,
she "lived an isolated life" and felt the world was an"
"I always had a vague desire to return to college, but the
realization of that dream resided somewhere in the distant future," she
At the suggestion of her psychiatrist, Jones began taking classes at a
community college a couple of years ago and registered with its Center on
Disability, where she learned about Education Plus.
Gradually Jones noticed that her self-esteem improved, and she began to
feel connected to those around her.
According to Jones, education specialist Sue Edwards, M.A.,"
constantly reminded me of my abilities when I could only see my
disability." She also described Edwards as "a great sounding board
not only about school-related issues but general life issues."
Of the Education Plus support group, Jones said, "I felt relaxed
among people who were struggling with similar issues.... I was no longer
Jones now has plans to get her bachelor's degree in psychology at a school
in the Philadelphia area. "I feel like I've lived this life of mine for
a reason," she said. "A certain knowledge has been borne out of my
experiences, and I can empathize with others in my situation. I want to be
able to give back."