Graduate school; a tough place not for everybody

Several weeks ago it was published in Nature Biotechnology a really scary article “evidence for a mental health crisis in graduate education” . This article should be used as a wake up call for all graduate students and professor in academia. Going to grad school, either for a masters or a PhD, is not easy, and in here I will write some emotions that a big percentage of people go through in their higher education career.

For the data that I will talk about, a total of 2279 grad students that are either doing their masters or PhD was surveyed, from 234 different institutions, different field of study and from 26 countries. 41% of the surveyed population suffered from anxiety and 39% suffered from depression. This percentage is specially alarming if considered that the estimation of these feelings are around 6% for people in general. Interestingly, the percentage of anxiety and depression is higher for females than it is for males.

When you are in grad-school, you tend to focus a lot in your work and forget that there is a life outside of the lab or office. By this study it has been shown that having a healthy work-life balance can decrease the feeling of anxiety and depression. Unhealthy work life balance leads to a 55% of anxiety and depression while this numbers are decreased to 24% on students that have a healthy work-life balance.

Another important factor in grad school is support. Probably, the most important person during your high education degree is your principal investigator or PI. Is it very important to have a good relationship with your PI for many reasons, specially since it will be this person the one that gives you your masters or PhD. Another crucial reason comes from the fact that people that had the support of their PI had a less percentage of anxiety and depression, therefore making the grad student life better. Therefore I would suggest before applying to graduate school, ask yourself; Am I really ready for it?

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