Rackham Graduate School is pleased to announce the creation of the Rackham Mental-Health Task Force to better support the well-being and success of graduate students at the University of Michigan.
The task force is led by Meghan Duffy, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a 2017-2018 public-engagement fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Duffy received the President’s Award for Public Impact in 2017 in recognition of her public-engagement and outreach efforts around science and diversity. “This is something that emerged out of the time I spent as a faculty innovator-in-residence in the Center for Academic Innovation,” said Duffy. "I'm really grateful for that opportunity. I would not have been able to do this work without their support."
“There is widespread recognition that we need to do more to support graduate student mental health and well-being,” Duffy said. “I’m incredibly excited that this task force allows us to tackle this issue at multiple levels, from individuals through graduate programs and on up to Rackham.”
Recent research shows approximately half of all graduate students experience psychological distress, with a higher prevalence of mental-health problems than among the highly educated general population. A recent study of U-M graduate students revealed that one in four experience significant symptoms of a mental health problem such as major depression, severe anxiety, disordered eating, or suicidal thoughts. In addition to the personal toll they exact, these mental-health challenges reduce graduate students’ productivity. Another survey saw four in 10 graduate students report that mental or emotional health negatively affected their academic performance over the course of a four-week period.
The Rackham task force brings together faculty, graduate students, mental-health professionals, and other staff members to explore and expand ways to support graduate students’ mental health.
“Mental health has emerged as one of the most critical issues affecting graduate students,” said Rackham Dean Mike Solomon. “As we take new steps to address it, we look forward to working with faculty, staff, and student partners across campus to ensure our approach incorporates the full range of perspectives on this important topic.”