Reading round-up: Post-partum depression & PhD, ECR’s guide to managing perfectionism, advisors responding to trauma and many more

A person with red nail polish holds a red book open as if they are reading at a table. Only the arms and shoulders of the person are visible in the frame.

We have a great reading list compiled for you this weekend. We have all the bases covered with pieces on post-partum depression and doing a PhD, to learning how to set realistic targets when you are living with depression, from notes on managing uncertainty and perfectionism in academia, to a piece on how academic advisors can respond to trauma in their students.

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions: Living with Depression

“Living with mental illness this time of year can be particularly difficult. There’s a lot of pressure to ‘start over’ or ‘begin again’ or revamp how you live your entire life.” In this blog post featured on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, two individuals living with depression provide several realistic suggestions, ranging from taking regular walks to communicating your needs more openly, that might make life in 2018 a little easier for those with depression (and other mental health conditions).

Having a Mental Illness in a Scientific Field

In this personal essay on The Mighty, Eugia Ding shares their struggles with mental illness during graduate school and their observations on the pervasiveness of mental health stigma in the sciences. They highlight the importance of supervisor and peer support and express hope that, with open dialogue and time, others will come to see those with mental illnesses as “strong, capable fighters”.

Anxiety and Perfectionism in Academia

Anxiety, driven by pressures to publish, uncertain job prospects, and the competitive funding climate, is pervasive in academia, especially among early career researchers. This article highlights how this constant anxiety, coupled with perfectionism characterized by excessively high standards and self- criticism, can undermine the mental health of academics. It also presents a list of relevant resources for those who are struggling.

On Post-partum Depression and doing a Ph.D.

Carly Lesoski, a Ph.D. candidate in German Studies at Michigan State University, shares the challenges in balancing the demands of graduate studies and parenting a newborn while managing postpartum depression. Her powerful perspective highlights the importance of reaching out for professional help as well as the value of support and understanding from professors in supervisory roles.

How Professors Can Best Respond When Students Experience Trauma

As we have seen from other essays featured in this post (and elsewhere on this blog), support from professors can make a big difference for graduate students living with mental health conditions. In this piece from the Inside Higher Ed, Marina Rosenthal describes three small steps she takes when responding to trauma disclosures from students. Though the essay primarily focuses on the disclosure of sexual violence and assault in the classroom context, the article is of great relevance to anyone who wishes to provide better mental health support for those whom they mentor/supervise/teach.

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