Academic Challenges: Mental Health
From the student level to tenured faculty, academia poses a vast set of challenges. Every two weeks, Al-Diwan brings you a collection of articles and perspectives that touch upon one problem within academia. This week's focus is mental health; please note that several of these articles discuss depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Toward a Culture of Self-Care
By Carolyn Jeffries, Michael Spagna, and Shari Tarver Behring (Inside Higher Ed)
Having completed research on self-care preferences for full-time faculty and staff, the three authors highlight the benefits participants and their institutions have reaped from institutionalizing self-care programs.
Academics ‘face higher mental health risk’ than other professions
By Holly Else (Times Higher Education)
In addition to outlining major stressors for academics generally, Holly Else discusses the how the academic atmosphere poses different problems to younger academics versus older or ones who focus on research more so than teaching.
I wish we could talk more openly about mental health in academia
By Anonymous Academic (The Guardian)
The lack of mental health literacy and a pseudo-“don’t ask, don’t tell” culture within academia comes with a plethora of consequences that not only impacts how academics do their jobs, but also how academics relate with their colleagues struggling with mental health.
Ph.D. students face significant mental health challenges
By Elisabeth Pain (Science)
With the academic job market being what it is, recent studies have shown that “high job demands with low job control” and “losing sleep because of worry” are two of the most common symptoms of poor mental health for graduate students.
Getting out of a(nother) hole
By Sciencella (Tenure, She Wrote)
For Sciencella, recognizing that she needed to tend to her own mental health also meant that navigating others’ emotions and fearing what might happen to her reputation should people find out about her struggles with mental health. Building from her own experiences with anxiety and depression, Sciencella advocates truly addressing one’s mental health, getting the necessary help, and destigmatizing therapy and medication.
There’s an awful cost to getting a PhD that no one talks about
By Jennifer Walker (Quartz)
Dr. Jennifer Walker challenges the expectation of all-nighters, constant busyness, anxiety, and depression during graduate school. She posits that in addition to providing better mental health services to students, universities need to help advisors recognize the warning signs of depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. Walker does not want prospective PhD students to be scared away from pursing a PhD; rather, students should take heed before entering programs, think about how they handle their own mental health, and consider how their prospective supervisors understand mental health.
On Depression, and the Toll Academia Exacts
By Jacqui Shine (Chronicle Vitae)
As she acknowledges the progress academia has made in addressing and confronting mental health, Dr. Jacqui Shine also comments on how far is left to go. She touches upon the flaws of solutions that have already been implemented to support students and how she has had to reframe her thought processes in deciding how to move forward within academia.