Catch up on what we’ve been reading at the Collective this month. We have articles touching on the growing evidence of particular mental health vulnerabilities among graduate students, the challenges and triumphs of discussing one’s mental illness in academia, the unique experience of receiving feedback whilst dealing with a mental illness, the unique challenges facing people of color experiencing mental health difficulties, and the mental health struggles of a psychotherapist.
In this Nature article, Julie Gould discusses common stressors facing graduate students (e.g., social isolation, uncertain career prospects) and highlights important avenues for support, including campus counseling services and peer groups (e.g., Active Minds). Drawing upon a combination of personal accounts from individual graduate students and interviews with mental health experts, Gould encourages those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems to reach out for help and provides concrete suggestions on how to do so.
Mental health challenges are common in academia, yet it is often difficult for those who live with mental health conditions to openly discuss their struggles. In this blog post, Catherine Scott shares her personal experience with both depression and anxiety throughout graduate school. She emphasizes the valuable role that supportive supervisors and peers play in her personal journey and suggests possible ways to encourage open dialogue surrounding mental health issues in academia.
Receiving student evaluations is an integral part of university teaching, yet its impact on the mental health of professors is rarely considered. In this Guardian article, a professor who lives with depression and anxiety discusses how emotionally taxing student evaluations can be for instructors with mental illnesses, who are often made to feel like “terrible teachers who cannot handle criticisms”. She calls for institutions to directly address “the ways in which lecturers with mental illness might respond to and internalize student criticisms” and devise alternative, more constructive ways of delivering student feedback to their course instructors.
“We’re often isolated as mentally ill people of color, silenced from speaking our truths, and stripped of a sense of belonging. Then we are expected to get well, nobody asks if the picture of wellness that’s supposed to be the end goal is even good for us.” In this essay from Rest for Resistance, Dom Chattergee discusses the unique challenges faced by people of color who live with mental illnesses, such as ongoing trauma associated with systematic oppression and the lacking cultural awareness of mental health professionals.
In this powerful essay published in the New York Times, Stacey Freedenthal, a professor in social work and practicing psychotherapist, shares her journey from a depressed, suicidal graduate student to a mental health professional who specializes in suicide risk assessment and intervention. By opening up about her personal struggles, she hopes to let others with mental illnesses know that “many professionals who appear to sit on a high horse, in fact, sit with them.”