Grad Wide Social Events
One of the major goals for the 2018-2019 GSC was to advocate for improvements in graduate student mental healthcare access and wellness. Following up on our town hall meeting on mental health in the fall of 2018, the GSC formed a working group on graduate student mental health and wellness. This working group brought together GSC members and graduate students from across the University to investigate the causes of and possible solutions to the graduate student mental health crisis. These efforts resulted in the Recommendations of the GSC Working Group on Mental Health and Wellness can be read here. In brief, the working group makes the following recommendations to the University:
1. To address the root causes of poor mental health and wellness by improving the academic environment at Stanford:
The relationship between graduate students and their advisers is a major source of stress and poor mental health. We therefore ask Stanford to implement institution-wide training for advisers in managerial and mentorship skills. This training would teach advisers the skills to successfully manage and mentor graduate students from diverse backgrounds, and train advisers to recognize and address signs of poor mental health in their trainees.
Additionally, Stanford currently lacks any institution-wide policies that guarantee graduate students time off. Because of this, many graduate students take very little time off and endure excessive workloads that may be damaging to their mental wellbeing. Therefore, we ask Stanford to develop University-wide policies guaranteeing graduate students four weeks of vacation per year, in addition to sick days and University holidays.
2. To expand mental healthcare access for graduate students:
While institutional changes to address the underlying structural issues of academia are the ultimate solution to the graduate mental health crisis, Stanford must meanwhile strive to increase mental healthcare access for graduate students. We are very cheered by the recent report from Susie Brubaker-Cole, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, which details several new initiatives to expand services at Stanford's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). These changes are strongly aligned with the recommendations of the working group, which include:
Hiring additional CAPS providers of diverse backgrounds,
Extending CAPS hours and availability for long-term care,
Streamlining and improving the process by which students are referred to off-campus providers, until such a time that CAPS can accommodate most students on-campus
We have also asked the University to provide subsidies to cover the cost of co-pays and travel for students receiving care from off-campus providers.
3. To increase funding for mental health services outside of CAPS:
Current peer counseling programs do not effectively address the needs of graduate students. We therefore ask that Stanford commit to creating a peer counseling support program within graduate housing, similar to the Peer Health Educator Program (PHEs) currently operating in undergraduate housing. We envision that, like the PHEs, graduate student peer mentors will be paid and extensively trained in providing one-on-one counseling and guiding students to on-campus or off-campus mental health resources.
We welcome you to read and share the full report widely with your peers, professors, and leadership in your department and school! We also welcome further feedback about the report, which can be submitted by emailing the GSC Chairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.