The mental health of our PhD students

PhD Mental Health


Tara Brabazon is Dean of Graduate Research and Professor of Cultural Studies here at Flinders.

She is a prolific social media user, writer and speaker and has a very entertaining YouTube channel focused primarily around the PhD experience.

She recently recorded a video with the two Postgraduate Representatives – Hannah Scott and Emily Crawley – to discuss the mental health of PhD students.

Hannah and Emily are unique in the PhD space. Instead of the ‘normal’ approach, which is to slowly disintegrate as a human being and watch the same happen to your colleagues, Hannah and Emily actually want to be proactive in helping PhD students arrive safely at the end of the PhD, more than a withered shell of their original selves.

So they are out talking. To Tara, to me, to other students, to anyone that will listen.

In the video, Tara, Hannah and Emily cover a quite diverse range of topics:

  • How it is time to move on from the ‘trial by fire’ attitude towards PhDs
  • The ruthlessness of the academic environment
  • The unique challenges of young PhD students who perhaps don’t have the experience necessary to realise some aspects of the PhD experience in broken
  • Supervisor relationships
  • Understanding future career paths
  • The characteristics of the university environment that contribute to unrealistic expectations and stress in PhD students such as the normalisation of unhealthy work practices and the idealisation of overwork
  • The role that gender plays in the differing mental illness rates in men, women and transgender students
  • the need for both reactive (e.g. specialist counselling) and proactive (e.g. social connection events) approaches to improving mental health in PhD students
  • Tackling social isolation
  • Making kindness and compassion the dominant traits of academia

Hannah and Emily are organising some stuff for PhD students for the upcoming RUOK day (13th September).

If you are a Flinders PhD Student, stay tuned to your email for further details.

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