Graduate students face a host of unique challenges that can impact emotional wellness. The good news is that there are resources and people at U-M ready and willing to help. Here are the most common challenges that graduate students say they face, along with helpful tips and resources.
Did you know that 28.4% of U-M graduate and professional students have a diagnosed mental health condition*? If you are concerned about your mental health, you are not alone.
*U-M Healthy Minds Study, 2012
Tip: Check out the Rackham Graduate School website
Graduate student programs, especially doctorate programs, may require a longer stay in Ann Arbor, and whether you’re coming from another city, another state, or another country, there is no doubt that relocation can be stressful. In addition to adjusting to the new demands of your program, you have to create a new home for yourself. And if you are moving with a partner or children, this transition can be equally as stressful for them.
One of the best things that you can do is get to know Ann Arbor. Explore and enjoy all that Ann Arbor has to offer. To listen to what other graduate students have to say about living in Ann Arbor, watch this video from Rackham Graduate School.
The difference in ages and experiences of students at the graduate level is often greater than during the undergraduate years. These perceived differences, coupled with living alone and working long hours, can leave some graduate students feeling alone or isolated. Although it can be challenging, connecting with people and creating a support network is an important way to stay healthy.
Connect with other students in your program! It’s safe to assume that most students in your program at least share similar professional or academic interests, which can be a good starting point in connecting with others who may at first seem very different from yourself. Another great way to find others who share your interests is to ask about what student organizations you can get involved in within your program.
Connect with others outside your program! Taking time to do something that you enjoy outside of your field of study, like joining an unrelated student organization or sport, signing up for an art class, or volunteering, can not only help you to connect with others, but is also good for your overall wellbeing.
For more tips, visit MiTalk's page on avoiding isolation.
Graduate students regularly identify academic demands as a source of stress, with the structure and requirements of academic work often quite different than what they experienced in their undergraduate studies. In graduate school the expectation is that you will contribute, rather than just being a passive consumer of information, meaning that you will likely be conducting more independent research.
The advising relationship is different than many students have experienced before. Navigating that relationship, as well as making decisions about whether or not to disclose mental health difficulties, can be a source of worry for some students. It can be scary to think about discussing your mental health with the person who may review your work or make professional recommendations. This worksheet can be helpful in making the decision about whether or not to disclose.
- Read some more information and tips for dealing with the academic demands of graduate school.
- For more tips, visit MiTalk's page on advising relationships.
Managing the demands of parenting as a graduate student can be uniquely challenging, but whether you already have children, or become a parent during graduate school, the University has many resources to support you both academically and socially.
Keeping a healthy work/life balance as a priority, connecting with other student parents, and taking advantage of the resources available, can all be helpful in managing some of the stresses of being a student parent.
The Students with Children website, the University’s Work/Life Resource Center, and Rackham Graduate School are great sources of information for student parents.
- The Students with Children website, aimed at all student parents and caregivers, includes information on childcare, financial resources, social support, health clinics, insurance options, and more.
- The Work/Life Resource Center is a starting point for the U-M community to learn about resources and tools to promote work/life balance, including resources to support parents.
- Rackham offers programs and events throughout the year and provides quick access to important resource information including academic policies, and links to resources.
Help-Seeking For Yourself and For Your Family
There are many mental health resources available for both you and your family on campus and in the Ann Arbor community. For a comprehensive, searchable list of the support services available, visit the Resource section of this site.
- Campus Mind Works offers free, drop-in education and support groups open to any U-M student.
- The Community Providers Database is a searchable list of off-campus mental health care providers. Searchable by items like insurance accepted, specialties, and location, it is a great resource for both enrolled and non-enrolled students.
- Counseling and Psychological Services provides free counseling services for enrolled U-M students. During the academic year, CAPS also offers graduate student support groups and drop-in workshops.
- University Center for the Child and Family (UCCF) offers mental health services to children and families.
- University of Michigan Psychological Clinic offers therapy for adults 18 and over for a variety of difficulties and concerns.
- University of Michigan Depression Center/Department of Psychiatry provides individual, family, and group treatments for a variety of concerns, and offers free support groups and educational workshops for patients and family members.