I knew grad school would be difficult, but I was surprised to find one way in which I wanted to work harder: learning how to talk about science. I grew up seeing science misrepresented or misunderstood in the news and pop culture. I thought the relationship between science and society needed repair, and I saw scientists’ isolation as part of the problem. So I couldn’t believe that my Ph.D. program was willing to release me into the world without teaching me how to talk to people outside academe.
There is a growing cry for help from graduate students across the globe who struggle with significant mental health concerns1. Despite increased discussion of the topic, there remains a dire need to resolve our understanding of the mental health issues in the trainee population.
Recent research on mental health in the trainee population has focused on within-institution cohorts, such as the 2014 UC Berkeley report2, which found that 43–46% of graduate students in the biosciences were depressed, and the 2015 University of Arizona report3, which found that a majority of doctoral students reported “more than average” current stress or “tremendous” stress and endorsed school and education-related issues as the most significant contributors to their stress. Although these studies demonstrate the mental health concerns in this population, more research is needed to better define the prevalence of mental health issues and the role of key variables such as gender, mentorship relationships and perceived work–life balance on susceptibility to mental health struggles in the trainee population.
Several studies suggest that graduate students are at greater risk for mental health issues than those in the general population. This is largely due to social isolation, the often abstract nature of the work and feelings of inadequacy — not to mention the slim tenure-track job market. But a new study in Nature Biotechnology warns, in no uncertain terms, of a mental health “crisis” in graduate education.
Anxiety eclipses depression among college students, and the number who say it’s overwhelming them is on the rise. Campus counseling centers confront many challenges in trying to serve students, not the least of which is that mental health still has a stigma on campuses.
Today 43.4 million Americans over the age of 18 have a mental, behavioral or emotional disorders. Out of all those people, 56.5% of those adults never received treatment, primarily because of the expense.This is an alarming trend which needs to change. So what can be done?