An Academic Imperative: Prioritizing Mental Health and Well-Being During Graduate Studies1 Jun, 2023
Graduate school is challenging and demanding on a personal and academic level. During this tenure, maintaining good mental health and well-being is essential to achieving academic achievement and personal fulfillment.
This blog will help graduate students better understand the importance of mental health and wellness. Furthermore, it will also inspire students to think of it as an ethical responsibility and a top priority during their graduate studies. The blog also entails practical strategies to demystify mental health challenges and promote self-care, balance, and resilience.
Understanding the Importance of Mental Health and Well-Being
Similar to how one manages one’s diet and fitness for great physical health, mental health is about how well one manages one’s life's challenges, relationships, personal and professional goals. Mental health is a crucial part of one’s well-being. An individual’s sense of wellbeing and overall quality of life may negatively impact their mental health. Therefore, it is particularly important to treat mental health as a top priority.
Graduate students often experience a mental health crisis during their academic tenure. Graduate students are six times more likely than the general population to experience melancholy and anxiety, with 36% of them seeking help for mental health problems brought on by their academic challenges. This can manifest in a lack of motivation, decreased productivity, and reduced academic engagement. As such, it is crucial for graduate students to prioritize their mental health and seek support when needed to ensure academic success and personal fulfillment.
Common Mental Challenges Faced by Graduate Students
Graduate students often struggle with stress and anxiety which may negatively affect their academic performance, social lives, and general well-being. For instance, a graduate student battling with anxiety may find it challenging to concentrate on academic assignments, experience unusual physical symptoms like an elevated heart rate or irregular sleep patterns and may even find difficulty forming and maintaining relationships in their personal and professional environments.
Burnout is another common mental health challenge experienced by graduate students, characterized by exhaustion, decreased motivation, and feelings of hopelessness. Graduate students who experience burnout may include overwork, difficulty completing assignments, and loss of enthusiasm in their field of study.
Many graduate students struggle with imposter syndrome, a psychological condition detected by self-doubt, fear of failure, and a sense of inadequacy. According to a statistic, 70% graduate students and faculty will experience imposter syndrome at some point because of the demanding nature of their academic pursuits and the pressure to excel. Graduate students with imposter syndrome may feel insecure about their competence in their field, intimidated by their class fellows, may struggle in asking for assistance and accepting positive feedback or recognition of their accomplishments.
These mental challenges may not only damage the academic and professional performance of graduate students, but they may also impact the quality of their life and personal relationships.
Strategies for Prioritizing Mental Health and Well-Being
Effective and practical strategies to improve mental health and well-being, and boost productivity in terms of academic performance, creativity, and engagement, include the following:
Self-love is imperative for graduate students. By cultivating a positive self-image and practicing self-care, graduate students can improve their overall well-being and achieve greater success in their academic pursuits. One can practice self-care by, i.e., rewarding oneself when achieving a small milestone, taking regular breaks during academic tasks, engaging in mindfulness practices such as meditation, or engaging in stress-reducing activities such as listening to music, and mingling with friends or family.
- Physical Activities
Incorporating physical activity in one’s daily routine will generate fruitful results. Graduate students can work on their physical fitness by going for a run or visiting the gymnasium or if that is not possible for any reason, they could consider joining a university’s sports club. Most universities offer sports activities and events organized by professional or social student clubs to encourage graduate students to actively participate in recreational activities.
- Time Management
Effective time management may help in keeping a balance between academics and personal life. Graduate students can use time management tools like the Pomodoro Technique to help them focus on important academic related projects or tasks.
- Seeking Support
Counseling, support groups, and peer mentoring can provide a safe and confidential space for graduate students to express their concerns, receive guidance, and develop effective coping strategies. Seeking support can also help reduce feelings of isolation which can contribute to poor mental health outcomes.
How Can Zayed University Help Graduate Students in Prioritizing Their Mental Health and Well-Being?
Zayed University supports graduate students in prioritizing their mental health and well-being. The leading public university in the United Arab Emirates understands the challenges that graduate students may face during their graduate studies and has introduced the following programs and initiatives to offer students social, personal, professional, cultural, sports and recreational opportunities, and to create a supportive, inclusive, and student-centered environment:
- Accessible health services on campus
- Professional and confidential counselling assistance
- Students of Determination assistance and support
- Student Centers
- Professional and social clubs and organizations
- Sports and recreational activities
Moreover, Zayed University promotes a culture of open communication between graduate students and faculty. Graduate students can schedule academic advising sessions with their professors to discuss and resolve their academic challenges.
Enroll in a university which understands and prioritizes the mental health and well-being of its students just as much as you do. For more information about Zayed University’s graduate programs and application deadlines for graduate program admission, please contact the Deanship of Graduate Studies at +971-2-599-3605 / firstname.lastname@example.org