Hello and welcome to this module on mental health and wellbeing. There’s currently a lot of talk about mental health within academia and beyond. Although it’s a complex topic, the implications of poor mental health are clear. As the World Health Organisation has summarised:
“Mental health influences how we think and feel about ourselves and others and how we interpret events. It affects our capacity to learn, to communicate and to form, sustain and end relationships. It also influences our ability to cope with change, transition and life events: having a baby, moving house, experiencing bereavement” (Friedli 2004)
As you can see from this definition, poor mental health is likely to impact heavily upon the experience of a PhD student. Often they are adapting to a new country, city, or university — sometimes all three — not to mention the pressure of pursuing an ambitious research project. Older PhD students might be dealing with caring responsibilities, paid work commitments, or family illness.
This module is designed to promote awareness of mental health problems. We’ll investigate common situations, before moving on to specific techniques for boosting mental wellbeing within the supervisory relationship — for both you and your student. This isn’t about diagnosing students, the emphasis here is on providing and signposting appropriate support.
By the end of the module, you should have:
- An understanding of the Mental Health & Wellbeing Continuum and how it impacts upon the PhD experience
- A basic knowledge of common mental health issues
- Practical techniques you can apply to promote good mental health within the supervisory relationship