Mental health in the academic workplace

Because mental health issues remain a neglected aspect of the academic workplace, I thought I’d do a quick roundup of websites and blog posts that may be helpful resources for those interested in learning more.

I’ve already written a number of blog posts on workplace bullying in academe, so I won’t revisit that specific topic here. However, I will be pulling together an update on it soon.

Extensive list of resources

Bravo to The Professor Is In blog for assembling this excellent, extensive list of articles, essays, and resources about mental health in the academy last February:

This week I received an email from a reader who had recently been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  She was asking for resources I might know of to help her navigate her Ph.D. program in light of her mental illness.  I didn’t know of any, so I put out a request on Facebook and Twitter.  The response was instantaneous and big.

I compiled all the recommendations into the following list. As you can see I just cut and pasted directly from the comments on Twitter and Facebook, without elaboration.  They are in no particular order, and I have not yet read most of these and can’t vouch for them.  But many responders also asked to be sent any list of resources I might develop, and I wanted to share the list for the benefit of those who asked.  It seems clear to me that this topic is close to the heart of many.

U.K. site on mental health and higher education

The Mental Health in Higher Education Hub blog is about both mental health in higher education and higher education addressing mental health issues:

Mental Health in Higher Education aims to increase networking and the sharing of approaches to learning and teaching about mental health and distress – across the disciplines in higher education. We have members from across the world.

mhhe is open to educators (including service user and career educators), practice mentors, students, practitioners, educational researchers and all with an interest in enhancing learning and teaching about mental health. Read about our first ten years, on storify.

In the aftermath of a tragedy

In 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece on mental health in academe by Jennifer Ruark, following the tragic multiple homicide at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. I was among those interviewed for the piece.

In conversations on The Chronicle’s Web site and elsewhere, people have seized on the killings as evidence that academic life today is a petri dish for madness: The high stress of the tenure process, the pressures to be brilliant at research and teaching, the cloistered environment, the extent to which internal politics affects people’s careers—it’s a combination that could damage even psychologically healthy people.

Therapy and counseling

The blog Academic Jungle discusses the potential value of therapy and counseling for faculty members:

The book [about mental health] I am reading and the patient cases described therein made me think of all the people whom I have met through the years, mostly in academia, who have had mental or behavioral health issues. I don’t know if academia is rife with mental health problems or whether it is better or worse than any other industry, but I know I have met quite a few people who might have or actually have benefited from some form of therapy.

Graduate student blogs about her experience with depression

Jacqui Shine, a columnist at Chronicle Vitaewrites about her own struggles with depression as a graduate student:

…[A]cademic institutions don’t respond effectively to chronic and invisible disabilities. Folks in my department discouraged me from registering with the university’s disability-services program. They said outright that they couldn’t imagine what kinds of accommodations would actually be useful for me; they implied that registering could potentially stigmatize me.

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