#MHPhDchat: Mental Health in Academia

Suck it up.”

“Tough it out.”

“You have it so easy, back when I did MY PhD, things were much tougher!”

These statements are heard all too often in academia. As a result, PhD students (and bachelors and masters students, postdocs, and younger faculty members) learn the mindset early that to struggle in academia is to be “normal.” In fact, if you are NOT struggling, perhaps you’re not working hard enough. This is a mentality that persists in academia, oftentimes being encouraged or even intensified by your own boss.

I have certainly struggled with my own mental health during my academic journey (from getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in South Carolina, to a PhD in chemistry in California, to doing postdoctoral research in Switzerland). There are many ways that institutions and/or programs can set up academics for mental health success. But how can that shift begin to happen? The best way that I can think of is to start by sharing stories. Real stories, published by real scientists, with real problems. Hopefully this can be a catalyst for change.

On this page, I would like to give academics a platform to share their stories of their own mental health struggles.

If you need help to tell your story, or if you want to tell your story anonymously, reach out to me (check the Contact page) and I will be happy to help you join in the conversation.

Alternatively, if you are interested in advocacy and policy, get in touch to start putting together a position paper on the topic of mental health in academia.

Thanks to all who have joined in the Twitter chat #MHPhDchat! You can participate the second Tuesday of each month on Twitter.


Stories of Mental Health Struggles in Academia

Mental Health in Academia: A Guilty Scientist” by Courtney R. Thomas