Content advice: this post does not contain any detailed discussions of specific mental health issues, but linked sites may contain such discussions (these are provided with content warnings where possible).
Today (February 2nd) is ‘Time to Talk Day’: a day for talking about mental health problems, for reaching out to those who are currently experiencing such problems, and for educating people about the realities of mental health conditions to tackle the stigma that is still unfortunately often attached to these conditions.
Statistically, one in four people will experience a mental health problem every year, meaning that whether you know it or not, someone (probably several people) in your family, or your friendship group, or your workplace, will have or have previously had a mental health condition. From my own perspective as an academic, academia is very far from being an exception to this, with mental health problems being increasingly prevalent amongst university students and staff alike.
This isn’t the place for an exhaustive discussion of the reasons for the rise of mental health conditions in academia, which are obviously complicated (but are clearly partly influenced by issues such as long working hours, the frequent lack of a clear work-life balance, and the increasing financial pressures on individual students and researchers and on universities as a whole). Instead, I want to share some resources that may be of help to anyone reading this, whether or not you currently have a mental health condition.
For anyone who is in need of mental health support, there is a list of helplines (UK-based) and websites offering support here. Other sources of support will include your GP and (if you are a student or an academic) your university’s counselling service. (For the Cambridge university counselling service, see here).
For anyone who is supporting someone with a mental health condition, this site offers information, advice, resources, and links to local support groups (content warning: there are sections of this site relating to mental health crises and suicide).
For anyone who wants to learn more about mental health conditions, how to offer support to those experiencing problems, and how to tackle stigma and discrimination, please have a look at Time to Change‘s site (the group organising Time to Talk Day).
And finally, for a powerful blog post written by an academic in Sheffield about his own ongoing mental health issues, click here (content warning: mentions of anxiety, depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts), and for links to a range of other articles and resources relating specifically to mental health in academia, click here (NB: this link goes to a list of links to other posts which don’t have detailed content warnings. I haven’t been able to go through all of them in detail, but they deal with a range of subjects including but not limited to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, self-harm, and suicide or suicidal thoughts).
Please look after yourselves and each other.