Conversations I Wish I Had

Get Help: How the myth of self-sufficiency fails PhD students with mental illness

PhD(isabled)

Light shines through the central atrium of a spiral concrete stairwell, photographed from the bottom.

Recently a tankard of ink, both physical and virtual, has been spilled on the topic of depression and suicide. A significant portion of this, particularly on Twitter, was focused on identifying depression and convincing the afflicted to “get help.” The whole discussion, while well-meaning, seemed just as inane as the business plan of South Park’s underpants gnomes:

  1. Get help.
  2. ??
  3. Cured!

The advice dispensed by university-affiliated advisers and counselors to PhD students who find themselves in crisis is little more sophisticated than the 140-character exhortations percolating through the Twittersphere.

Assuming, of course, that a student recognizes that there is a problem affecting her ability to function, she will have a number of barriers to traverse. Fellow students will tell her she’s worn out and just needs a little exercise. Her advisor may dismissively remark on stress reduction strategy sessions provided by the university—but by whom? The advisor isn’t quite…

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2014 by .
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