The University of California, Berkeley, released a Graduate Student Happiness and Well-Being Report (link is external). They found that 47 percent of doctoral students and 37 percent of master’s students surveyed met the clinical criteria for depression based on their responses to a widely-used depressive symptoms inventory. Arts and Humanities students were most vulnerable, with 64 percent meeting the criteria.

Why? Because the stigma against mental health issues in Higher Education is hurting the science community. Life throws curveballs. Mental health illness makes it harder to hit them. And when you feel alone in that? Life is overwhelming.

From Psychology Today; “Graduate School and Mental Illness: Is There a Link?” My name is Susanna Harris, and I am a Ph.D. candidate (read: forever student) in microbiology at UNC-Chapel Hill. I manage depression and recently “came out” about taking medication and regularly seeing a therapist.

About 2 years ago, I went from being a super enthusiastic and successful graduate student living with my fiance to becoming disillusioned with academia and living alone with the threat of being ejected from my program if I didn’t pass a re-take of an exam.

Even with a fantastic support system, I struggled to find reasons to continue. My problems seemed so small compared to others, but I was miserable and terrified. Now, I am so thankful for their help; I changed labs, got a roommate, and adopted the two best (and craziest) puppies.

I created @ph_d_epression after realizing my story might benefit others. Many friends and colleagues have since said they had no idea I was in pain because I “didn’t look depressed”. There is no face of mental illness – you can’t see it!

Last May was one of the hardest months of my life. May is mental health month and also the month with the highest suicide rate – coincidence?

If you are hurting, you aren’t weird or pathetic or stupid. You deserve to ask for help. You deserve the love that you would give to your own friends and family.

Please check out @Ph_D_epression for amazing stories from other brave current and future #PhDs (including my own). I believe a change is coming – someday maintaining mental health will be as accepted as taking care of physical health.

Want to spread #visibility and #support? Do you like the @ph_d_epression mission to end the stigma of mental health issues affecting #PhD trainees and graduates? Think you can make an impact in 140 characters or less? 📱 We are looking for a curator, moderator, and editor of the @Ph_D_epression #Twitter handle, under the direction of the @ph_d_epression Instagram. The content distributed may be sensitive and contentious, and our words have the ability to help or hurt a lot of amazing people. This commitment should not be taken lightly! ✨ This includes M-F reposting content from Instagram and following and responding to requests. We will have a weekly meeting (skype, call, in person – depending on situation) to check in with updates. You will be given creative license with much of the content, so it’s really important that you are #passionate and #responsible in accepting this position. ❤ If you are interested, please fill out the survey (link at bottom) by 04.05.2018 Please contact @ph_d_epression on Instagram with any questions, or you can email me at 📝

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Susanna Harris is a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology at the University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. You can find her on Instagram by the handle: @susannalharris.

You can find her on Twitter also as: @Ph_D_epression.

Edited By: Ken Cohen is a psychology intern at Painted Brain and student at Antioch University.

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