Academic mental health: Breaking the stigma, seeking & offering support, and more!
“We need to fight the stigma on mental illness and provide better resources for mental health that go beyond telling someone to take a few deep breaths or calm down. People need genuine long-term emotional support” – Research technician, North America; CACTUS Mental Health Survey Report 2020.
Over the past few years, the mental health crisis in academia has become an increasingly discussed topic. Despite more open conversations, several myths and misconceptions around researcher mental health continue to prevail. For example, “Researchers who are productive don’t struggle with their mental health” or “Only lazy folks who want to get out of work, complain about mental health difficulties.”
Misconceptions like these breed a culture of stigma within academia. This could deter researchers from asking for help or seeking professional support even if their struggling, for fear of how they might be perceived and how it might affect their career. As a result, several surveys and studies around academic mental health have been suggesting one urgent need – to reduce stigma surrounding mental health in academia and normalize discussions around it.
To further our ongoing efforts towards this cause, this month we’ve invited Dr. Mary McMillan – Senior Lecturer, University of New England and Mental Health Advocate – for a special session to mark the occasion of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021.
During this session, Mary will talk about:
- Mental health in academia and why it’s important for us to talk about it
- Myths and misconceptions around academic mental health, and put these to rest
- How you can seek support if you’re struggling with your mental health
- How you can offer support is someone around you is experiencing mental health difficulties
- How you can be a mental health and wellbeing advocate within your institution/university
Date: May 14, 2021
Time: 10:00 am UTC
About Dr. Mary McMillan:
Senior Lecturer, University of New England; Mental Health Advocate; Women in STEM Advocate
Mental illnesses are one of the leading causes of disability world-wide. As many as 1 in every 6 people experience depression in their lifetimes. Despite this we still don’t really understand the biological basis of depression, or what makes some people more susceptible than others. Dr. Mary McMillan is one researcher working to address this issue. Mary is a senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University of New England in regional NSW, Australia, where she works with the Brain-Behaviour Research Group to better understand how genetic variation may lead us to be more susceptible to depression. She is also investigating how we can use biological and genetic markers to diagnose depression, and to find the most effective treatment for each individual. Mary is also passionate about science education and communication. She regularly delivers science outreach activities for school and community groups, and writes a fortnightly science column for the Australian Community Media network. Mary is an alumni of the Homeward Bound leadership program for women in STEM, was named as one of 12 STEM Changemakers by the Australian Academy of Science in 2020, and is a current Science and Technology Australia “Superstar of STEM”.