In the years since I began my successful journey toward the PhD I’ve learned so much about the importance of maintaining good health in graduate school. As my visitors get to know me better you will discover that I am a deep advocate for self-care during the graduate years.
We enter graduate school to learn about academics and about ourselves. But there’s another whole element of our graduate education that often challenges us to the core: Our life-management skills.
I see graduate study as a form of mountain-climbing. Being prepared for the journey includes caring for your mental and physical health.
My doctoral journey was ultimately successful, but I’m not afraid to admit that it pushed my mental health to a breaking point, taking me a full year longer (3 years rather than my intended 2) to finish my dissertation.
I have a huge compassion for helping graduate students sort out the issues and challenges, and I do hope it shows in every page of this site.
I want to pass along to you several recent articles focusing on stress management and mental health issues in doctoral study. These articles confirm findings I first published from my own research in 1995, Pursuit of the Ph.D.: ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ or is it Time for a New Approach?
There has been a veritable explosion of awareness about mental health issues in graduate education during the past 4 years. Consider the following:
- For Many Graduate Students, Covid-19 Highlights Inequities (March 2020), by Megan Zahneis, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education
- I Wish I’d Taken my Mental Health More Seriously in Graduate School (2020), by Desiree Dickerson, published in Science Magazine
- Why we Need to Talk More About Mental Health in Graduate School, by
- PhDs: The Torturous Truth, by Chris Woolston (November 2019), reporting on a major new survey of more than 6000 doctoral students published in the journal Nature.
- Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health (2018), by Alia Wong, including an extensive array of reader feedback published in The Atlantic
- An investigative profile, Examining Graduate Student Mental Health (2018), by Abby Olena, from The Scientist
- A recent article was published in the online publication The Conversation. Authored by counselors Meghan Duffy, Carly Thanhouser & Daniel Eisenberg of the University of Michigan, it is called What colleges must do to promote mental health for graduate students. (August 2018).
- An article by Colleen Flaherty published in Inside Higher Education earlier this year is entitled Mental Health Crisis for Graduate Students. This summary of results from a large international survey of doctoral students describes “strikingly high rates of anxiety and depression and little help from doctoral supervisors.
- An investigative study published in The Atlantic in 2016 is entitled Why do so Many Graduate Students Quit?. In this study, Te-Erika Patterson explores the background reasons behind the shocking statistic: One out of every two doctoral students withdraw without finishing. A leading cause is the culture of high stress and burnout among doctoral students. This article cites my own research as a foundation for further inquiry.
- The Stigma on Mental Health Issues, by Yorick Peterse, PhD student. This article comes from the absolutely wonderful blogsite of the Academic Mental Health Collective, devoted to support for graduate students and post-docs.
If these articles raise issues for you, I really want to help you evaluate your options. Please spend some time viewing my Graduate References page. Then feel free to write to me. For further information about my professional services you can visit Dr. Scott Kerlin, Gradmentor.