Mental wellbeing, COVID edition!

D57a02ba9a9ecb65d11370e3abf4dddc?s=47 Abbie Stevens
September 23, 2020

Mental wellbeing, COVID edition!

Slides presented at the astronomy start-of-semester check-in.

D57a02ba9a9ecb65d11370e3abf4dddc?s=128

Abbie Stevens

September 23, 2020
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Transcript

  1. MENTAL WELLBEING in academia Virtual all-hands astro meeting September 23,

    2020 Abbie Stevens, she/her/hers alstev@msu.edu; @abigailStev COVID-19 edition
  2. DISCLAIMER I am an astronomy postdoc. I am not a

    mental health professional. I have no training in therapy, counseling, or psychology. This is a peer-to-peer discussion, not expert advice.
  3. ➤ Mental health: emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing ➤ How

    you see yourself, how you interact with others, etc. ➤ Mental health is important!! ➤ Mental illness, mental health problems: factors (situational, clinical/biological/chronic) that get in the way of your emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing ➤ Why should we discuss this? ➤ While individual mental wellbeing is very personal, a community has a responsibility for its ‘climate’ and towards its members WHAT DOES “MENTAL WELLBEING” OR “MENTAL HEALTH” MEAN?
  4. THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS SUCKED FOR ALL OF US ➤

    Regular routine has gone completely out the window ➤ Stuck at home, sometimes with roommates ➤ Children are home too; homeschooling ➤ Hard if not impossible to visit family ➤ Can’t/very difficult to see friends in person ➤ Only changes of scenery are from room to room of house/flat ➤ Usual coping mechanisms for stressful times are not available ➤ Depression, anxiety, and sometimes homesickness are on the rise ➤ The academic job market is going to be horrific for YEARS (I swear we had only just recovered from 2008)
  5. ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: YOU ARE NOT ALONE ➤ “Signs

    of depression and anxiety soar among US grad students during pandemic” (Nature career news, Aug 2020). Out of more than 15k grads: ➤ Indications of anxiety rose 50% compared to last year ➤ 39% screened positive for anxiety disorders ➤ 32% screened positive for major depression ➤ Depression more common in students in physical sciences ➤ “As the pandemic erodes grad student mental health, academics sound the alarm” (Science careers article, Sept 2020). Out of 4,000 US STEM grads: ➤ 40% meet criteria for generalized anxiety disorder ➤ 37% meet criteria for major depressive disorder
  6. ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: YOU ARE NOT ALONE ➤ “Postdocs

    in crisis: science cannot risk losing the next generation” (Nature editorial, Sept 2020) ➤ “Pandemic darkens postdocs’ work and career hopes” (Nature career feature, Sept 2020) ➤ Out of 7,670 int’l postdocs surveyed: ➤ 61% think the pandemic has worsened their career prospects, another 25% aren’t sure if it has or not ➤ 23% have sought help for anxiety or depression caused by work, another 26% would like to seek help ➤ 51% are considering leaving academia because of work- related mental health concerns
  7. ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: YOU ARE NOT ALONE ➤ “Academia

    needs a reality check: Life is not back to normal” (Science careers article, Aug 2020) ➤ Resources from int’l working scientists on how to cope with the coronavirus’ impact on scientific careers (Nature collection, June-Sept 2020)(Science Letters to the Editor, June- Sept 2020), featuring: ➤ Solo parenting ➤ Fieldwork/travel requirements for work ➤ What conferences may look like in the post-COVID future ➤ How pandemics create inequality and amplify oppression ➤ Can we use this chaos to “fix” academia?
  8. MSU RESOURCES ➤ MSU employee assistance program: 6 free counseling

    sessions for grad students, postdocs, profs, staff, etc. & family ➤ Can meet with them to help get set up with a regular therapist outside of MSU services ➤ Counseling center at Olin Health Center (for enrolled students including grad students): best for at-risk/crisis, triage ➤ Website also has links to 24/7 emergency services like hotlines and a local domestic violence shelter ➤ Counseling with a “sliding scale” fee from HDFS at MSU ➤ Ask your GP for a referral to a therapist (insurance usually covers all/most of it; these two accept grad insurance, among others) ➤ Other support resources listed at https://grad.msu.edu/partners- in-wellness
  9. MSU RESOURCES

  10. MSU RESOURCES {

  11. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING? ➤ Drink enough

    water daily and eat a vegetable every day ➤ Make getting a full night of sleep every night a priority (8-9 hours) ➤ Take breaks to go for a walk; exercise regularly (yoga, pilates, jogging, etc.) ➤ I’m a few weeks into a Couch-to-5K program! ➤ Try not to rely on caffeine and sugar to get your energy, since you’ll crash soon after ➤ Enforce regular working hours. These will probably be diminished due to COVID; check with your advisor on expectations ➤ Connect with colleagues (don’t suffer in silence) ➤ Daily meditation (with an app like Headspace or Calm) ➤ Commit regular time to hobbies: cooking, gardening, artistic pursuits, fiber arts ➤ Read a book for fun! Abbie likes Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett ➤ See a counselor/therapist regularly, take prescribed medication
  12. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING? ➤ Drink enough

    water daily and eat a vegetable every day ➤ Make getting a full night of sleep every night a priority (8-9 hours) ➤ Take breaks to go for a walk; exercise regularly (yoga, pilates, jogging, etc.) ➤ I’m a few weeks into a Couch-to-5K program! ➤ Try not to rely on caffeine and sugar to get your energy, since you’ll crash soon after ➤ Enforce regular working hours. These will probably be diminished due to COVID; check with your advisor on expectations ➤ Connect with colleagues (don’t suffer in silence) ➤ Daily meditation (with an app like Headspace or Calm) ➤ Commit regular time to hobbies: cooking, gardening, artistic pursuits, fiber arts ➤ Read a book for fun! Abbie likes Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett ➤ See a counselor/therapist regularly, take prescribed medication From discussion: Or don’t! If you do much better working when you feel like and taking time to do fun things whenever during the day, do that! Still have a convo with advisor and/or self about managing expectations. From discussion: Though very few people can do all their coursework in a ‘standard’ work day, it should not be an unbearable time burden. Talk to your prof about how much time you spend on their course so that they can shorten assignments, adjust deadlines, etc. as needed.
  13. COVID-19 COPING MECHANISMS ➤ Zoom regularly with loved ones ➤

    Distanced, masked, outdoors, in-person, very-small-group meet-ups ➤ Backyards! Walks together in parks! Picnic blanket/folding chairs in parks! ➤ E-book borrowing from library ➤ Youtube yoga/pilates/etc. ➤ Setting up a work-from-home environment that you genuinely like ➤ What did you like most about your desk/office setup on campus? What can you do at home to get the same result? ➤ Gardening/houseplants ➤ Netflix/Hulu/Prime video/etc. ➤ Adopting cat(s) from the shelter/humane society ➤ No doomscrolling social media late at night
  14. INTERNET RESOURCES, COVID EDITION ➤ “Flattening the mental health curve

    is the next big coronavirus challenge”, The Conversation ➤ “3 research-based ways to cope with the uncertainties of pandemic life”, The Conversation ➤ “Tips for living online - lessons from six months of the COVID-19 pandemic”, The Conversation ➤ More good stuff from The Conversation ➤ “The emotionally challenging next phase of the pandemic”, The Atlantic ➤ “The world changes, and we grow”, Inside Higher Ed ➤ “The problems with pausing the tenure clock”, Inside Higher Ed ➤ More good stuff from Inside Higher Ed’s blog Higher Ed Gamma ➤ For scientific journalism about COVID, I really like Ed Yong’s writing at The Atlantic