Susanna L. Harris Pt. 1 – Mental Health in Graduate School

Warning: Please note that this episode mentions different mental health issues, including suicidal ideation.

When we look around us, it’s easy to think everyone else is doing fine and has a picture perfect life. It’s easy to feel like your peers are better than you, more successful, having a better time. But you’d be surprised… In today’s stressful day-to-day, in particular in graduate school, more people than you imagine are struggling with anxiety and depression. In part one of this week’s episode of Papa PhD, Susanna Harris will be sharing with you her personal experience dealing with depression during her PhD and the lessons this experience has brought her.

Mental Health, science communication, PhD Balance

Susanna L. Harris is a PhD student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where she studies how different types of bacteria stick to the roots of plants. Susanna started PhD Balance to empower academics during and after Grad School, with a special focus on supporting academics’ mental health. Susanna can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @susannalharris while PhD Balance can be found at @PhD_Balance and at www.PhDBalance.com.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The importance of finding undergrad and graduate programs in domains that interest you
  • How to reason you way through impostor syndrome in graduate school 
  • How to deal with negative self-talk and with negative talk coming from others
  • The importance of getting specialized help if you’re struggling, especially if you’re dealing with mental health issues
  • Why you should have someone who you can safely share your struggles and your worries with during graduate school
  • How knowing your yearly mood cycle can help you keep balance

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“Do what you think success looks like.”

“Things that support people’s mental health are things like having a routined schedule, having very clear goals, then metrics by which to meet them, a clear understanding of expectations, family, friends, loved ones…”

“Going back to the idea of taking care of myself – if you have a pet you don’t have a choice of not getting up in the morning, you don’t have a choice of staying in your house all day long. And things like – they have to eat twice a day, so I should probably eat at least twice a day… and companionship.”

“Those pieces that we tell people, that sound so fluffy, like “have a support system” or “get enough sleep”, or “be introspective” – those are often the hardest, but they really are the pieces that matter.”

Susanna’s links: Twitter – @SusannaLHarris @PhD_Balance; Instagram – @SusannaLHarris @PhD_Balance; LinkedIn.com/in/SusannaLHarris; PhDBalance.com.

You might also like the following episodes:

Abel Polese – Area Studies: PapaPhD.com/19

Inês Thomas Almeida – Musicology: PapaPhD.com/27

Joe Makkerh – Entrepreneurship: PapaPhD.com/2

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication: PapaPhD.com/13

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