DBS Hosts Self-Care Seminar

Mental health and wellbeing of grad students is focus
DBS Grad Student Mental Health Seminare

In September, graduate students, faculty and staff participated in a seminar lead by Elisa Bolton, director of Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS), about the mental health and wellbeing of graduate students. Life in academia can be strenuous, and even more so through higher levels of education. and these unprecedented times can teeter the stack. According to Bonnie Brown, professor and department chair, graduate students and faculty requested the seminar to learn how to better support each other during difficult times.

“We’re trained as scientists, not psychiatrists, not psychologists, so we wanted to reach out and get help on how to recognize when our students are having some issues, when we are having issues, and how to promote healthier ways of dealing with all of the stress that academics have,” she said.

Dean Anthony Davis eagerly provided the support needed to open the vital seminar to all of COLSA.

First and third year doctoral. students Palash Mandal and Annasamy Chandrakala certainly understand the significance of this seminar. “Doing a Ph.D. is hard and even if you manage your tasks well, it can be more demanding at certain times…I take care of myself, but still, there are some gaps, and you can always learn from something new,” said Chandrakala, who also thought theinformation will be beneficial for coping with stress in future employment.

Mandal also agreed that mental health awareness is important long term. “I think this is a good presentation… [because] it gives us more insight on how we can adjust ourselves into different situations to reach our goals,” he said.

From a faculty standpoint, Easton White, assistant professor, puts the wellbeing of his students and advisees as one of his top priorities both in and out of the lab and was excited to see the mental health seminar offered.

“Having people who are mentally, physically and emotionally healthy is one of the keys to them being productive and successful in graduate school and in their career,” he said. “I think this is one of the core issues and is something that can be talked about and focused on not only as a lab group and in lab meetings but also in a department and on the university level as well.

Professor Brown began the program by sharing her observation that advisors at UNH highly value their graduate students and treat them as their own from day one, only wanting the best for them. The strength of this statement truly shined through with the attendee’s participation and excitement for the better promotion of their student’s mental health throughout the course of the seminar.

Thank you to those who attended, both virtually and in person, and those who organized this event. A special thank you to Dean Davis and Associate Dean Babbitt for strong support of the program and to Elisa Bolton for her thoughtful and insightful presentation.