Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tip #3 - Get professional help!

I just saw this very sad article about 3 Caltech students who committed suicide in the last 3 months.

I want to reiterate what I said in the first post: If you are suffering from a major depressive disorder or having thoughts of suicide, please get professional help.

Even if you just need someone to talk to, you have a great opportunity to utilize the free services of your school. Check out the free and confidential counseling services that your school probably offers. Sometimes just an objective (and paid to listen!) point of view can really shed light on things.

It may seem like your advisor or your department doesn't care about you, but your school definitely cares about your mental health. In addition to counseling services, look into the other professional services your school may be offering to help keep you sane in these crazy times:
  • Stress
    • Stress Counselor - It's their job to relax you, help them get paid.

    • 1-Time-Only Offerings - These usually pop up right around finals and may include free 10 minute massages, breathing workshops or yoga classes.

  • Physical Health
    • Doctors, Insurance, Gym, etc - Use these services while you get them cheap! Get yourself in top shape, in case you have to start paying your own insurance soon.

    • Smoking Cessation Programs - These can be pretty expensive when paid for, take advantage of your school's concern for your health and do it now. Taking control of one aspect of your life can make taking control of other parts that much easier.

  • Career
    • Career Counseling - Why not go discuss your options should you choose to leave the program?

    • Career Fairs - See what's out there, make some contacts, set up informational interviews

  • Academic
    • Writing Workshops - Having an expert tell you how he thinks it should be done may teach you something, inspire you, or remind you that you're a better writer than others and renew some confidence. Also, meeting other attendees in your position can help you develop a Ph.D. support group.

    • Tutoring/Knowledge Exchange - Use the tutoring services offered by the school to get someone to explain a peripheral area of knowledge, or find a Ph.D. student with whom you can exchange help in your area expertise for theirs (i.e. your knowledge of good writing for their programming skills, etc)

  • Graduate School Services
    • Grad Center - Mine offers free coffee and a place to work that isn't the library or my office.

    • Workshops - You may find grad-specific workshops like how to write a dissertation or how to apply for grants.

Do you have any other favorite services that I've missed?