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#DoOneThing – Recognising World Mental Health Day

Much of the recent research calls us to draw urgent attention to the sharply declining mental health in academia, particularly in PhD researchers.  

Nature’s 2019 biennial PhD survey, for instance, revealed that 36% of the 6,300 graduate students surveyed had sought help for anxiety or depression related to their PhD. In the UK, these findings are supported by Advance HE’s annual Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, which showed alarming levels of anxiety, with only 14% respondents reporting low anxiety, compared to the 41% population average, according to the Office for National Statistics figures of May 2019.  

What’s most concerning about these pre-COVID-19 studies is that they already point to the fragile state of mental health within the academic community, even before the impacts of past few months and the unprecedented transition to online teaching and learning, are truly exposed. 

Mental health is a global matter

However, in the year where each of us has seen dramatic changes to our professional and personal lives and experienced new feelings of anxiety, stress, and isolation, we must recognise that mental health is very much a global issue.   

For some, concerns about job security, family members, and their own physical health have put them under unexpected pressure. For those already living with mental health issues or illness, the uncertainty has exacerbated their symptoms.  

Whilst it is impossible to predict what the coming months might bring, the need to focus on our mental health is greater than ever. As a society, we should acknowledge that giving our mental health as much discussion time as our physical health is crucial and can make a positive difference. This World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October provides a welcome opportunity to do so. 

Making positive changes

Sharing our experiences and talking about our mental health helps to break down barriers and reduce the stigma relating to mental health issues. It can help others realise that they are not alone; that everyone’s experience of mental health problems is different, and that support is available.  

As well as talking about mental health, there are practical actions we can take to improve our own and that of those around us – both physically and virtually. This year, the UK charity Mind calls us to do one thing for better mental health. A positive change for yourself or help for someone else. This can be:  

  • sharing tips for keeping well with colleagues 
  • taking a walk 
  • practicing mindfulness 
  • decluttering 
  • writing 
  • exercising and stretching 
  • connecting with a friend or family member 
  • researching something we’ve always wanted to do – and better still – doing it 

During these uncertain times, whatever the one thing that you do this World Mental Health Day, you can be certain that it will make a difference; and there is no need to only stop at one. 

Twitter #WorldMentalHealthDay #DoOneThing 

► Video resources from our 2020 Virtual General Conference

Session on Focus, Efficiency and Mindfullness

Session on Managing Productivity and Workflow

Exercises by Phil Munro Inspiring Fitness

 ► More information
09 October 2020
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