DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00466.2023 ISSN:

Addressing the Decline in Graduate Students' Mental Well-Being

Gopika SenthilKumar, Natalia M. Marin Mathieu, Julie K. Freed, Curt D. Sigmund, David D. Gutterman
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology

At the American Physiology Summit 2023 session entitled 'Mental Health for Graduate Students,' numerous students expressed struggling from poor mental well-being primarily due to negative experiences during their graduate training. In fact, studies show that up to 50% of graduate students report symptoms of depression, anxiety, or burnout during their training, and poor mental well-being is a major contributor to students' decision to leave academia. Most of the current solutions focus on treatment or wellness strategies; while these are important and necessary, the training environment or culture that often contributes to worsening well-being continues to persist. In this collaborative article between trainees and mentors across various career stages, we discuss how the pace of scientific advancements and the associated competition, lack of sufficient support for students from diverse backgrounds, and mentor-mentee relationships crucially influence graduate students' mental well-being. We then offer specific solutions at the individual, institutional, and national levels that can serve as a starting point for improving graduate students' mental health and overall training experience.

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