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. ScienceMag.org. [Online] March 6, 2018. http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2018/03/graduate-students-need-more-mental-health-support-new-study-highlights.