Let’s talk about mental health, baby. Let’s talk about PhD.


Hi gang! What a crazy 24 hours it’s been. I wanted to wait until I had time to sit down with a cup of tea and a giant biscuit before I responded to all of your comments.

Thank you. Thank you all so much. Thanks for the hundreds of retweets, shares, favourites, comments and replies. I have been simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of support my post has received. Your comments have made smile, laugh, cry and point at my computer screen shouting “YES! I TOLD YOU IT WASN’T JUST ME!”. I would love to track down ever single one of you and give you a massive hug and a biscuit. Thank you all.

Mental health is a massive problem within the PhD community. I have become even more convinced of this after seeing just how much this issue resonated with so many of you. Feelings of isolation, uncertainty, stress, pressure, and fear of failure are common to many of you. Some of you have shared your experiences of mental illness, unsupportive universities and supervisors from hell. Some of you have told me about outstanding support from supervisors, peers and student counselling services.

So what now? We’ve started the conversation, and it’s been a strong start. Good job team. Now we need to make sure that we’re being heard. Talk to your workmates about their mental health. You can start by saying “hey, check out this blog post about PhD student and mental health” and see where the conversation goes from there. Find out what resources are available to you as a PhD student and make sure everyone else knows as well. Talk to your supervisor about how you feel you’re coping (my next post is going to be about how to have ‘the chat’ with your supervisor).

Ask your university what it is doing to promote positive mental health. I have emailed Glasgow Uni asking whether they are aware of the important issue of mental health problems among PhD students, how they support students with mental health problems and asking them to be open to more honest conversations about mental health. I’ll let you know how that goes. You can do this too. Do you have input into the training offered for students and staff? Ask for mental health training for yourselves and your supervisors. Are you a class representative? Do you have a class representative? Ask that student mental health be added to the agenda for your next meeting.

Be excellent to one another and keep talking. Thank you. You’re all amazing.


One response to “Let’s talk about mental health, baby. Let’s talk about PhD.

  1. Mental health is a serious concern, especially for graduate students and scholars–the constant pressure and expectations can bring out underlying troubles and promote new anxieties. We’ve written on our own blog about the potentially destructive repercussions that unaddressed mental illness can have on the well-being and success of scholars. Unfortunately, it is still a neglected issue and direly needs more attention brought to it. The outreach that you give here is great and, hopefully, we’ll see more support in the academic community for this kind of thing.

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