#OktoSay: Let’s Talk Mental Health

Last month was mental health awareness month. Because of this, when our friends over at Chronically Academic asked me to write a blog for their site, I decided to send them this piece on my recent realizations after battling with my own mental health issues, and in the way that having a strong support network both at home and work helped me manage and overcome them. As someone who has gone through it, I understand how hard it can be to reach out and ask for help, and how isolating things can feel. Believe me, it does get better, but only if you seek help and reach out. If you don’t have a strong support network or don’t know where to start looking for resources, check out our resource page on this site.

In healing solidarity,

Juan Pablo Ruiz

Anonymous Blog 25-07-16

During my position as an RA, my supervisor was not really a problem per se, and my experience of research in the first 1-2 months made me accept a PhD position that was offered to me ahead of time. However, after the “new” feeling wore off, I saw the stark reality of the lab environment I was in. The lab members were *****y, jealous, and highly competitive. Continue reading

Why Do So Many Graduate Students Quit?

Two different people have recently pointed out this article on the Atlantic to us, adding to our growing list of articles addressing problems in the environments graduate students and academics need to survive in. Burnout, mental health issues, and toxic relationships are but a few of these problems:

“Many students are convinced the doctoral experience sets them up to fail.”

As we develop a new generation of faculty and trainers, as well as department heads, we should ask ourselves: Is this really the type of environment we want to develop our brightest minds in? Is the goal of a university ultimately its research and the funds that it attracts, or to train people to develop the capacity to question and perform successful and independent research?

Emotional Vulnerability

Recently, the NIH OITE Careers blog published a post on revealing vulnerability in the workplace. While the article and linked study are definitely worth a read, the vulnerability I wish to discuss in this article is what Dr. Brené Brown describes as being powerfully and intrinsically human. We live in a fast-paced, competitive world that wants us to “suck it up” and keep going whenever things don’t go our way. It is a world and culture that for the most part perpetuate the myth that we have no time to understand or work on our emotions. In fact, revealing our emotions in the public sphere is seen as a weakness and something that will negatively impact our lives. This continuously perpetuates the stigma of seeking help on emotional and mental health and strengthens the myth that anyone seeking help is fundamentally broken beyond repair in some way. I’m writing this post to help break that stigma. I, Juan Pablo Ruiz Villalobos, successful PhD student and emotionally-balanced human being (happiest in my lab by the subjective opinion of my colleagues and an online psych test we all took), needed help, and sought out counseling.

Continue reading