By Alysha Page

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month I thought it  important to open up a conversation about navigating work, personal life, graduate school, and keeping up your mental health.  According to a study done by Harvard University, due to the strain and stress of courses Graduate students are three times more likely to suffer from mental health disorders and depression than your average citizen. Something I have learned during my nearly six years in graduate school (Master’s degrees and Ph.D.) it is always important to take time out for yourself.  Degrees are important and so are deadlines, but nothing can be completed unless you take care of yourself first. As a Black woman in higher education I am all too aware of the desire to succeed under great pressure. Your stressors can be compounded or changed based on your ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, etc. faculty at your institution, or even work environments. Stress touches everyone’s life and  is unique to each person. 

Taking care of yourself can present itself in many ways, whether it be talking to a school counselor, friends, or just taking a day off for self-care. It is important to remember when working on an extended internship like ACE/CRDIP never hesitate to communicate with your supervisor about your needs.  If you need time off to take care of school work, family emergencies, or just to process all that is going on, let them know. There is a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health and in the past decade there have been great strides forward to normalizing seeking help and comfort. Your team is there to help see you complete a successful internship, so your mental and emotional health is a top priority. 

One of the ways that I have been taking care of my mental health is through hiking and taking some time out from meetings and writing the Company L Special History Study to meet incoming interns and taking trips to Canada. The second full week of May I had an outline meeting with the second readers on the project. In celebration of this successful weekend I traveled to Whitehorse, Canada. Small breaks are so important after long hours especially when far away from friends and family. How do you take care of your mental health?

Figure 1: At times you can feel like you are two places at once when you are working on a PhD. in Washington, D.C and 4,000 miles away in Skagway, Alaska. The task is to enjoy the duality. (Me somewhere in Canada along the ALCAN Highway)

Until next time, Farewell!

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