Caring for Your Mental Health

In the years since I began my successful journey toward the PhD I’ve learned so much about the importance of maintaining good mental health. As my visitors get to know me better you will discover that I am a deep advocate for self-care and wellness.

Most people who enter graduate school want to deepen their knowledge about academic subjects and strengthen their professional career aspirations.

But there’s another whole element of graduate education that often challenges us to the core: Our life-management skills.

As tempting as it may be to ignore our personal needs, we owe it to ourselves to treat them with loving kindness.

I view personal growth and professional development as a form of mountain-climbing. Preparing for the journey includes caring for your mental and physical health.

I have a huge compassion for helping individuals and graduate students sort out the issues and challenges of life and of graduate studies, 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:

  1. For Many Graduate Students, Covid-19 Highlights Inequities (March 2020), by Megan Zahneis, published in the Chronicle of Higher Education
  2.  I Wish I’d Taken my Mental Health More Seriously in Graduate School (2020), by Desiree Dickerson, published in Science Magazine
  3. Why we Need to Talk More About Mental Health in Graduate School, by
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. An investigative profile, Examining Graduate Student Mental Health (2018), by Abby Olena, from The Scientist
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

IMG_2654psblogSavor the Journey, One Step at a Time…

Author: Scott Kerlin

Dr. Scott Kerlin received his Ph.D in Organizational Behavior and Counseling from the University of Oregon in 1992. He also holds Master's degrees in Human Resource Management/Organizational Psychology and Public Personnel Administration. He has extensive academic research leadership and professional development work with graduate students in U.S. and Canadian universities. Details are available at

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