The Mental Health Crisis of Graduate School

The Mental Health Crisis of Graduate School

These days my bed is the only place I feel safe. When I lay there, protected by my blanket fortress, it feels as if, for that brief moment in time, life can’t get to me. I am safe, warm, and at peace. Each day the burden of life’s hardships weighs heavily on me. I used to consider myself a positive person, but it seems nowadays my thoughts have been poisoned by doubt and negativity.

I feel like all control is lost; I do not have the reigns over my own life. I keep reminding myself that everything will be fine. Take it a day at a time. Keep going; keep pushing. God has a plan greater than you can ever imagine. But no matter how many times I repeat these thoughts in mind, the darkness finds its way through. I walk around each day feeling numb; a shell of the person I used to be.

We can’t control our thoughts. No matter how hard we fight for control of them, our thoughts seem to have a mind of their own. I know I have wrote about mental health and wellness quite a bit, but it is important and it is a real issue. I can’t even begin to explain how real it is, especially in the world the youth are growing up in today.

Education is a wonderful thing and I am a huge advocate for it. But I feel that today it is straying further and further away from creativity and individuality. It is straying away from recognizing individual strengths. Moreover, education is becoming so competitive that it is forcing people to put aside themselves, their health and mental stability, in order to achieve what may not be achievable.

Our professors tell us that this is what we signed up for, it will make us better, it is just a brief period of our lives so stick it out. We put all the effort and energy we possess into pursuing our degree that soon, there is nothing left. Each step we take towards pursuing our degree feels like it weighs a million tons. Each morning we wake up and wonder if we will even make it through the day.

Some people say that the time you spend pursing a degree is just a short period in your life, so stick it out. But here is my thought: pursuing a degree may seem like a brief period in the span of our lives, but for some of us, the stress and pressure can cause us to harm ourselves. Many people who pursue a higher education degree are perfectionists. But more than that, we have this paralyzing fear of FAILURE. And this fear of failure instills in us anxiety and depression, which may lead to even worse consequences.

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Recently I performed a search on Google about mental health in the graduate student population. Not to my surprise, many of the headlines were written as follows: “What to do about the Graduate Student Mental Health Crisis.” It then hit me. We truly need to do MORE when it comes to mental health. We need to make it more readily available for graduate or Ph.D. students. Some may argue that therapists and mental health services are readily available on college campuses across the nation. However, for most of “us” students, we do not have time. Time is a problem. There never seems to be enough of it and often we feel as though we lack control over where our time goes.

Here is my main point. We need to bring mental health services directly to these students. Students need to feel like they have a voice and they need a platform to speak with professors and faculty. Not to attack faculty, but to express feelings and create open dialogue. Mental health is lacking and I feel changes need to be made in order to decrease the amount of depression and anxiety found within the population of people pursuing higher education.

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2 Comments

  1. September 6, 2018 / 1:42 am

    I work with graduate students. I believe some of the problems not only rest with the course work and lab/research projects but with the atmosphere generated by the advisers/principal investigators. Too often they treat graduate students like indentured servants. Grad students and Post Docs were told by one investigator that they were required to work weekends and holidays – he ran his lab 24/7. It wasn’t until someone complained to human resources that the practice ended and the lab closed for Christmas day!!

    • September 6, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      I could not agree with you more. In my experience, it is mainly the atmosphere surrounding the advisors and program requirements that are the greatest mental health offenders. We feel as though we have no voice and if we do say something, we are looked down upon. Thank you so much for responding, maybe we will have to bring up some issues with human resources.

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