Linked above is one more important read for #WorldMentalHealthDay, and my thoughts below. It’s a special message to everyone out there dealing with the myriad emotions and pressures that accompany our studies, whether they be pre-college, undergraduate, or graduate.
In an environment where talent seems to be universal, and results seems to be the only currency, there exists a fear that admitting the existence of mental health issues, and seeking help to treat them, equals weakness.
This. Must. Stop.
We have all been connected to depression and other mental conditions, either because they have happened to us or to the people we know. The estimates of depression in graduate studies are hard to nail down, because so little discussion takes place about this issue. But a University of California study reported that two out of three students had felt hopeless at some point in a year.
This. Must. Stop.
The stigma that is placed on the individual for admitting that they need assistance should be lifted. The myth that you are the only one who feels that way should be crushed. And the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness should be crumpled into a little ball, doused in gasoline, and torched with a flame-thrower.
The must-read Nature article gives us this thought, from “Lauren”:
“Doing a PhD is such a personal thing, one that you’ve invested so much time in, that any criticism can feel like a direct reflection of yourself.”
We must first be comfortable with how we see that reflection, and that means making it ok for people to get help, and encouraging them to do so before things get serious. Universities should not require tragedies in order to protect their students, when it comes to mental health or when it comes to violence. But it seems that too many wait for the worst before they try to become better.
This has hit home in my graduate program this year, and I don’t want to see it happen again. I know there’s many out there who agree.
Mental health in graduate school should be met head-on, with treatment options specific to the needs of higher-level students, and never passively. We owe that to our best minds, to not only fill them with knowledge and nurture their development, but to keep them healthy.
This. Must. Stop.
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