Take Action Tuesday: Mind Your Mental Health

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.
— Michelle Obama

It’s back to school week, which brings on a range of emotions — from excitement at new beginnings to anxiety brought on by the unfamiliar. This week, we’re asking you to take time to check in with yourself amidst the tumult that comes with this season. We can’t change the world if we don’t take care for ourselves first.

You are not alone. Earlier this year, a global online survey of PhD and master’s students in STEM disciplines found that 41% of respondents showed moderate to severe anxiety and 39% moderate to severe depression. Nearly 61% of college undergraduates reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” and 40% reported depression, according to a 2015 survey by the American Health College Association.

If you are experiencing mental health concerns, it is okay to ask for help. Here are some good places to start:

  • Take advantage of your college or university’s mental health services and resources. Services at institutions vary; some have adopted 24-hour hotlines for around the clock care and many have counseling clinics for students.

  • If you’re unsure of services that are available, ULifeline is an excellent online resource with 24-hour hotlines and a tool that can help you find what services are available at your college or university. They also have a Self Evaluator, which was designed by Duke University School of Medicine to screen for thirteen of the most common mental health conditions facing college students.

  • September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide, like other mental health conditions, can affect anyone at any age. If you or a friend experience suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also find a local support group through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

  • To address mental health issues facing students at Yale, Professor of Psychology Laurie Santos created a course called The Science of Well-Being. The class became the most popular class in Yale’s 316-year history and featured lessons about the underlying psychology of well-being, as well as course requirements—or “rewirements”—like performing acts of kindness, cultivating a meditation practice, and, of course, sleeping. The class launched this week on Coursera and is available for free enrollment if you waive the certificate of completion.

If you’re someone in a position of mentorship or leadership at your institution:

Graphic by 500 Women Scientists leadership member  Dr. Jess Wade .

Graphic by 500 Women Scientists leadership member Dr. Jess Wade.

Today's Take Action Tuesday is brought to you by 500WS leader Dr. Maryam Zaringhalam.