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Mental Health

Faculty-student relationships are the strongest predictor of success in graduate school. Normalize talking about mental health. It builds trust.  Here are resources to help you support the mental health of our students and postdocs.

 

Purdue Counseling Resources

Purdue Counseling and Psycological Services:  Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a team of multiculturally sensitive professionals delivering comprehensive psychological services to the students of Purdue University. CAPS has a strong commitment to meeting the needs of diverse people. In all the service areas provided by CAPS, our staff strives to create an environment where all people feel welcome. As a staff, we attempt to facilitate mutual respect and understanding among people of diverse racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds, sexual/affectional orientations, gender identities, mental and physical abilities, languages, classes, ages, religion/spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic background as well as other types of diversity.

Purdue Center for Healthy LivingThe center offers a variety of services to treat common illnesses, manage chronic conditions, provide preventive care and promote overall health and wellness.  The Center for Healthy Living serves facutly, staff, and grad students at Purdue University.

 

For faculty:

Guidelines for faculty on supporting student mental health

  1. Combat imposter syndrome + develop a growth mindset:
    Reframe how students think about the difficulties of graduate school - situational struggles to reduce anxieties. Ex: "There's nothing you can do to change failing your class. You can't go back and change it. But it's fine, let's think about what you need to do to move forward."
    Also show examples of healthy behaviors and setting boundaries yourself (taking some time on weekend for yourself) so they feel they can as well
    • Disrupt self-doubts about belonging with personal validation - "We helped you in one step, but everything else was all you."
      • Build resilience to struggle/rejection/failure
      • Combat the narrative that success is a function of immutable qualities of people. Success is not tied to brilliance that you either "have" or "don't have."
    • Downplay status (breaking down the hierarchical power structures) and cultivate trust - push students but tell them they will succeed in the end, and they can and sometimes will fail but you will be there for them to talk to you to get help
  2. Ask regularly and listen often:
    • Keep it real about race, gender, and more in the academy -- racism/sexism exists in academia. Acknowledging it opens the door to a student who encounters it themselves and feels isolated to be able to talk about it with you.
    • Be visible and responsive - show students that you are available and care.
    • Mentoring relationships matter, mentor networks (multiple mentors) is even better. Establish shared expectations between mentee and mentor(s).
  3. Create spaces of support: individuals + institutions can do this
    • Purposefully break people out of the standard work routine - yoga classes, coffee breaks, flower walks to events. Routine can make mental health problems invisible.
    • Combine individual efforts with departmental/institutional commitments -- if you're doing it for your group, the whole department may benefit from doing it too.
    • Day-to-day culture building where people can bring up uncomfortable topics and in helpful rather than toxic ways.

Full notes from Dr. Posselt’s workshop

 

For students:

Here are two guides for graduate students - one for new students and one for 2nd/3rd year students. The content is largely taken from guides created for the Purdue Philosophy Department website. Note: These guides are not prescriptive; they are simply intended to encourage one to contemplate the purpose grad school and the responsibilities therein, which can help build a stronger sense of self. You're encouraged to discuss with one another and with your advisor!

 

Special thanks to Dr. Julie Posselt (USC) for leading the workshop “Graduate student mental heath: what faculty, friends, and family can do” on 04/19/2022, which is the source of much of the information provided above.

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