- Mental health distress is a serious problem among graduate students, according to three University of Michigan professors who have made a series of recommendations for higher education and the students. Their report comes just as another survey from Belgium researchers shows that one third of PhD candidates develop an issue such as depression, severe enough to be categorized as a disorder.
- The three UM professors report that half of all graduate students experience "psychological distress" and about 40% reported that emotional health issues affected their academic performance. They said about 7% of advanced degree students reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, compared with about 4% in the general public.
- The UM professors and the Belgium researchers stressed that it is important for the graduate students to seek help and for universities and colleges to provide services and encourage them to take care of their mental health. A "culture of silence" should become a "culture of access," the three UM professors wrote.
The UM trio also said that higher education officials should expect that graduate students will be reluctant to seek help and suggest they sponsor peer-based support networks and allow for mental health leave. They also said institutions should effectively address high levels of stress and sexual assault and harassment issues, which have been examined in a new book about it, specifically in STEM fields.
Other reports have suggested that a growing number of students in undergraduate courses are suffering, The University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University, Appalachian State University and Yale University reported suicides on campus that gained headlines. While students are reportedly seeking mental health services in record numbers, there is research that also suggests that two-thirds of students who are struggling don't seek help.
Providing more mental health services and especially encouraging students to get help – along with clear explanations about access to it – is key, but another report says that forums where students can talk to each other about problems is among the most effective approaches