Hey there! Yesterday I was participating in a training program of the University of York about the supervision of Ph.D. students at University of York Europe Campus - City College, organized by the York Graduate Research School. The Dean of YGRS, Prof Kate Arnold, ask a very apt question... a person with mental health issues should do a Ph.D.?
Without thinking too much, I said absolutely no, considering that a Ph.D. road-trip has very good chances to worsen someone's mental condition. Then, on a second thought, I realized that deciding whether to do a Ph.D. or not, is a deeply personal choice that depends on various factors, including of course an individual's mental health. While mental health issues can present unique challenges, they should not automatically disqualify someone from pursuing a Ph.D.
I believe that it's crucial to highlight to prospective students suffering from mental issues, several important aspects before they make a decision. I summarized my thoughts/advices in 6 points. So, if you are a student with a known mental condition and you want to follow the Ph.D. track, I am advising you to consider the following:
1. Evaluate your current mental health status and its impact on your daily life, functioning, and ability to manage stress. Reflect on whether you feel emotionally stable and resilient enough to handle the demands and pressures associated with a Ph.D.
2. Consider the availability of a strong support system, such as friends, family, mentors, or therapists who can provide guidance, encouragement, and assistance when needed. A robust support network can be vital in managing mental health challenges during a Ph.D. journey.
3. Reflect on your coping mechanisms and self-care strategies. Pursuing a Ph.D. can be demanding, requiring long hours, intense workloads, and periods of stress. It's essential to have healthy coping mechanisms in place to manage stress effectively and maintain your mental well-being.
4. Research the resources and accommodations available to students with mental health issues at the institutions you're considering. Understand the policies, counseling services, and support programs they offer to assist students in managing their mental health while pursuing advanced degrees.
5. Recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and setting boundaries. Prioritize self-care, leisure activities, and time for relaxation alongside your academic commitments to avoid burnout and promote overall well-being.
6. Reflect on your personal aspirations and how pursuing a Ph.D. aligns with your long-term goals. Consider whether the benefits of obtaining a Ph.D., such as intellectual growth, career opportunities, or personal fulfillment, outweigh the potential challenges associated with your mental health. It's good also to read my article (10 Compelling Reasons and 10 Poor Motivations to Pursue a PhD).
I think, that It's crucial to consult with mental health professionals, advisors, and trusted individuals who know you well when making this decision. They can provide valuable insights and support based on your specific circumstances. Remember, everyone's experiences with mental health issues are unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to prioritize your well-being and make an informed decision that considers your mental health needs.
Until next time... take care and have fun!