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How Can Graduate School Affect Your Mental Health?

According to a survey conducted by the American College Health Association, 68% of graduate and professional students suffer from above-average stress. This study was carried out before the pandemic. While it is common knowledge that most students experience stress, but is attending graduate school even worse for your mental health?

It is said that graduate school students exhibit twice as many symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. In fact, about one-third of Ph.D. students are at risk of developing a mental health problem.

Mental Health and Graduate School 

Students pursuing a Ph.D. often encounter a significant amount of mental health problems. According to a recent study, although these findings are based on a small sampling of 3659 students from universities in Flanders, Belgium. Ninety percent were studying the sciences and social sciences. These students are an essential addition to the growing literature on the majority of mental health issues in academia.

Mental health problems can develop into serious threats to one’s well-being and career and can have detrimental consequences in the long-term, or, if you’re struggling, it’s important to see professional help or seek help in your personal environment, even if you think it’s probably a temporary thing.

Katia Levecque and Frederik Anseel, Authors of Science Careers

According to the survey, 51% of respondents had at least two indications of poor mental health in the previous two weeks, which technically suggests psychological distress.

Furthermore, 32% of the respondents reported at least four symptoms, implying a risk for common psychiatric disorders. This was more than double the majority in highly educated comparison groups.

The most commonly reported signs included feeling constantly stressed, unhappy, and depressed, losing sleep due to worry, and being unable to overcome difficulties or enjoy day-to-day activities.

Having difficulty caring for family needs due to conflicting job obligations was the strongest predictor of experiencing mental health challenges. High job demands and a lack of job control were also linked to the increased symptoms. (Source: Science)

What is the Purpose of Graduate School Anyway? 

With a graduate school education, individuals get more advanced knowledge in specialized disciplines or sub-disciplines. Graduate school provides a thorough understanding of the subject matter, allowing the student to become somewhat of an expert in their said field of study. 

Beyond the bachelor’s degree, graduate education includes research, study, and teaching. Undergraduate education results in a bachelor’s degree, whereas graduate education results in a master’s degree and a doctorate, also known as a doctoral degree. (Source: Yale

Why is it Called Graduate School? 

The term graduate school may be confusing because of the verb graduate. This is because the term can also refer to finishing high school or attaining a Bachelor’s degree. 

The verb is used for all of these schools, but in the term graduate school, the adjective graduate is changed to mean post-graduate studies. (Source: Yale

Who was the First African-American Ph.D.?

In 1876, Edward Alexander Bouchet of Yale College Class of 1874 became the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. in the United States. His was the sixth doctorate in physics awarded in the United States. (Source: Yale

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