Thursday, January 3, 2013

If You Are In Crisis: Hotlines and Other Emergency Help for the Distressed Post-Ac

If you are feeling suicidal or are in a serious, can't-take-it-anymore crisis, there are people out who can help. Please don't hesitate to call one of these numbers or to reach out for help. Grad school and academia can be sites of tremendous stress and anxiety and isolation, and you are not the first person to reach a crisis point. You are not alone, and there is help out there for you.

In memory of a VERY SPECIAL FRIEND HORIZON via Compfight

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center has a dedicated crisis line solely for grad students anywhere to use: 1-800-GRAD-HLP (472-3457)

From their site:
Recent studies have shown that the pressures of academic performance, finances, advisor relationships and other factors create intense anxiety for many graduate students, bringing some to a dangerous point of crisis.

That's why we've come up with the National Graduate Student Crisis Line -- a toll-free, 24-hour hotline staffed by highly trained phone counselors who understand the unique issues faced by grad students like you.

Please don't hesitate to call. These people understand what you're going through, and they are here to help.

If you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255.

For more general suicide prevention and crisis hotlines, check out this site. They list national hotlines as well as links to organizations and crisis lines for every state in the U.S. As that site states: crisis counselors are waiting for your call. They are there to help. Don't hesitate.

If you feel like you are not in immediate crisis but still need help, please contact a mental health professional in your geographic area. Listings for licensed therapists and counselors and other mental health professionals can be found in your local phone book and the internet, as well as through many insurance company websites. If you are still employed or enrolled at an institution, find out if they have a faculty/staff counselor or student counseling service that can help you for low or no cost. This is how a lot of us get help when we're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Community health services are also a great place to look, as well as women's resource centers.

Many therapists will schedule quick appointments for people in crisis, and many charge on a sliding scale. Don't be afraid to make some calls. They are there to help.

And don't be embarrassed to seek help. I've done it, as have many people I know both inside and outside of academia. (Me, too! And me, too! Chime in the co-editors of this site.) Going to a therapist doesn't make you crazy or broken. It just means that you need an impartial person to give you some perspective on what you're going through.

Grad school and academia can wreak havoc on your mental health ... we all know it. Grad students joke about popping antidepressants and about how they're too anxious and overworked to sleep. I'm willing to bet that every single person reading this post right now can think of at least one time when they had some type of emotional breakdown over their academic work - a crying jag, a panic attack, a screaming fit, or maybe just a few days where you could not motivate yourself to go to campus (or even get out of bed). It's not just you who feels this way. A 2009 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) summarized some major findings about the mental health of graduate students, and the findings were not good:
At the University of California at Berkeley, 67 percent of graduate students said they had felt hopeless at least once in the last year; 54 percent had felt so depressed they had a hard time functioning, and nearly 10 percent said they had considered suicide, a 2004 survey found. By comparison, an estimated 9.5 percent of American adults suffer from depressive disorders in a given year.

You are not alone, and there is no shame in asking for help. Please, if you are in crisis, make a call.

And please: don't end your life over academia. The world is better off with you in it. The transition out of academia is tough and the chasm can feel deep, but we truly believe you can lead a happy life outside the ivory tower. Get help through the roughest patches.


  1. As someone who went through a severe depression ending in a serious suicide attempt in the 7 months after I left grad school, I am very happy that you are working to help make grad students more aware of how normal it is to have a very tough time emotionally in grad school and upon leaving grad school - with or without degree.

  2. Ron -- thanks for your comment. I definitely think people shouldn't suffer in silence or solitude. I hope things are looking up for you!

  3. Things are going very well for me. I now work as an occupational therapist. 35-40 hours a week at a job that I typically like or really like, pays me way more than I made as a grad student, has an excellent long-term career outlook (healthcare with specialties in seniors and insurance claim rehab services..).... Go 'head, ask me if I regret leaving academia!


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