Mental Health and the PhD: Insights and Implications for Political Science

Mental Health and the PhD: Insights and Implications for Political Science

By Nasir Almasri, Blair Read, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Clara Vandeweerdt, University of Copenhagen

There is a severe mental health crisis among graduate students in political science. We present findings from an original survey on the mental health of political science PhD students at seven US universities. Our results are concerning: 15.8% expressed thoughts of suicide in the two weeks prior to taking the survey. About 30% of respondents met the criteria for depression and only a third of those were receiving treatment. Approximately 32% met the criteria for anxiety and fewer than half were receiving treatment. We also found that students with poorer mental health were more isolated, had fewer friends in their department and fewer people to turn to for help, and were more likely to contemplate dropping out of their program. Our study raises important questions about the experiences of graduate students during the PhD program and serves as an urgent call to action to address the well-being of our colleagues.

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