Common mental health concerns associated with graduate school

Graduate school can be a tremendous experience for those who successfully complete it. Despite the financial cost and stressful workloads, the feeling of accomplishment - not to mention the professional and academic credentials - that completing a graduate degree might yield are unparalleled.

That said, the road through higher education is not always an easy one. Even the most dedicated, passionate and stalwart scholars may find themselves feeling the pressure of a master’s program or Ph.D. Oftentimes this can manifest in the form of a number of mild mental health concerns.

While not necessarily life-threatening, graduate students should be aware of what to look out for so they can ensure they take care of themselves throughout their programs.

Social stress

Just like as in college, many students who pursue a graduate degree move to a different state or, in some cases, a different country to do so. While this can be exciting, it can also serve as a source of stress for those who may not have another form of social support.

The added tasks that many students take on, such as teaching classes or grading papers, can cause an accumulation of stress. Stress is a common and inevitable part of any major endeavor, and graduate school is no different. However, if left unaddressed, this anxiousness can boil over and result in issues such as depression and anxiety. Not only are these conditions difficult to endure on a personal level, they can reach a point where they might impact a student's odds of successfully completing his or her program.

Campus resources

During periods when stress reaches its peak, it can be easy for overwhelmed graduate students to feel overworked, isolated and alone. The good news is that because of the prevalence of such issues among graduate student populations, many schools provide resources to help those who need it. Everything from time management seminars to baby-sitting services for those with children are available and can be tremendous sources of reprieve during stressful times.

Of course, sometimes issues can develop or progress past the point of life hacks and time-management, and it's important to know when this occurs. Counseling services are offered by nearly every school and should be taken advantage of if students feel it would help. Given the competitive nature of graduate school, the rigors of the workload and the necessity of balancing academics with personal and family life, any steps that can be taken to keep students on the path to success should be explored.

About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010.

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