Mental Health , , ,

Study confirms grad students have higher rates of anxiety and depression

I’m currently in my second semester of grad school, and I have heard many people talking positively about mental healthcare since I’ve been here.  Within the first few days of classes in August, we were informed where and how to get mental health help on campus.  I know plenty of people who have sought assistance with their mental health, and they speak about it without any sort of stigma.  All of this talk got me wondering, what’s behind this positivity?  Is it:

A) My department is super supportive

B) We’re a bunch of public health enthusiasts who want to dismantle stigma in every way we can

C) There’s a huge need for mental healthcare among graduate students

It turns out that the answer is likely: D) all of the above.

According to a recent study published in Nature Biotechnology the prevalence of both moderate to severe and anxiety and moderate to severe depression is over six times higher in graduate students than in the general population (1).  The good news is that the study also found that a good work-life balance helps improve mental health (1).  This means the next time someone tells you to take care of yourself, they’re not just repeating trite advice.  It really is important.

If you’re one of the many grad students (or anyone for that matter) who feels overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone.  Many of us are there with you, and it’s OK if you need to enlist the help of a professional.  Personally, I view this as a sign of strength instead of weakness.



(1) Pain, Elisabeth. Graduate students need more mental health support, new study highlights. [Online] March 6, 2018.

  • Casey

    This article made me wonder about the causality of the relationship between graduate status and mental health. Does graduate school attract students with existing conditions or do students develop these conditions while in graduate school? Either way these findings are startling. As a public health student, I wonder if there are any efforts to reduce rising rates in mental health conditions at the population level. To me, if rates are rising there must be something going on biologically or on a societal level to increase poor mental health.

  • Laurie Hursting

    Many mental illnesses arise during our 20s, and so I am wondering if this could be more age-specific than academic-specific. Did they compare rates among grad students and then the general population of all ages? I also would like to see how grad students compare to college students in this measure (since around same age group) and then with those not in school but of the same age group.

    • Hannah Tuttle

      I agree Laurie but I’m wondering if the experience of grad school may be triggering mental health risk for folks who are already at high risk for developing mental health conditions.

      • Laurie Hursting

        We can’t know without comparing populations!