Grad students face
mental wellness challenges

Published January 01 2019

Recent studies have drawn attention to the mental health challenges of graduate students. Hironao Okahana wrote about it in an April article on the Council of Graduate Schools website. Okohana, the CGS associate vice president for research and policy analysis, noted that Ph.D. students face many more mental health challenges than the general population. Read the article.

39% OF GRADUATE STUDENTS FELL INTO MODERATE TO SEVERE DEPRESSION HALF OF PH.D. STUDENTS HAVE EXPERIENCED PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS

A 2018 study in Nature Biotechnology reports that 39 percent of participants, mostly doctoral candidates, had moderate to severe depression, as compared with the 20 percent of American adults who experience mental illness in any given year. (Among this study’s authors are Nathan Vanderford and Teresa Evans, who write about leadership in this issue.)

The problem is not new. Studies in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (2013) and the Journal of College Student Development (2006) reported that half of all Ph.D. students have experienced psychological distress and one-third are at risk of a common psychiatric disorder.

63% OF GRADUATE DEANS AGREED STUDENTS STRUGGLE MORE THAN 5 YEARS AGO “Notably, nearly half of responding graduate deans indicated that their institutions are doing a poor or very poor job of informing and training graduate faculty members, faculty advisers, PIs, and dissertation/thesis chairs.” — Hironao Okahana

Graduate deans are mindful of the mental health challenges faced by master’s and doctoral students, Okahana writes. In the 2018 CGS Pressing Issues Survey, 63 percent of these deans agreed or strongly agreed that current grad students struggle to maintain mental wellness more than grad students did five years ago.