Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Interesting letter on mental health and academia

Also in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, this letter about a recent Jen Heemstra piece: 
Thank you for 63 years of C&EN and for the column Office Hours in the July 8 issue by Jen Heemstra (page 23). 
As I read her article, I reflected on my own experiences and concluded that she is absolutely correct with respect to the importance of creating a mental health environment in graduate schools. In my 5 years of graduate school I was three doors from a student and four doors away from a graduate professor who struggled with problems and committed suicide while I was in my lab. The competitive nature of the atmosphere of that department was not conducive to good mental health. I saw the same problem in several chemistry departments. 
I am grateful to C&EN for including her columns, as the problem of mental health is much greater than in graduate schools. Here in Alaska we have some of the highest rates of mental health problems, as evidenced by our high rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic abuse, etc. 
In my 10 years as a science teacher in Kenai and Soldotna High Schools, I witnessed mental health problems with students that I was totally unprepared to handle. All I could do was observe and suffer with the students. Jen has answers to those questions, and I encourage C&EN to promote her work. America and the world need more activists like her. 
Hugh R. Hays
Soldotna, Alaska
 "Observe and suffer" is a sadly appropriate phrase. 

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20