Written by Andrew Rowe, PhD student, Civil and Building Engineering
As a PhD student (hopefully) coming towards the end of the journey pretty soon, I have experienced a multitude of different emotions along the way – some very difficult to manage culminating in me very nearly terminating my studies twice. But I’m still here; how? I have absolutely no idea. I think I must be mad or stupid or a combination of both. I would say that it’s friends and fellow PGRs who have helped to keep me sane and have persuaded me to continue despite all the issues. Blogging has also been a fantastic means of, well I suppose, therapy for me. A way of getting frustration down on paper, a way of publicising my take on things, a way of advising others and a way of almost reassuring myself. More recently, this has seen me blogging for the student mental health charity: Student Minds.
Student Minds is a charity, initially founded as a support group in 2009 with the aim of enabling both students and universities to open up and talk about mental health. Over the past several years they have been instrumental in driving the importance of mental health support among students and have created workshops to try and tackle the stigma associated with the numerous facets of mental illness. The blog claims to be the largest of its kind dedicated to student mental health and I am now a sub-editor; after producing numerous blog posts for them raising awareness of PGR non-academic issues.
At this stage you may why I have decided to blog for a charity predominantly associated with undergraduate issues? Well, because I felt there was a gap to pursue – a dearth of PGR related experiences existed and it is important for someone to come forward and write about what can happen – that person happened to be me. Why? I am passionate about supporting PGRs both pastorally and non-academically and I hope that by me blogging about my experiences it will encourage PGRs to open up and also encourage institutions to become more aware of issues which exist outside of academia. These are often as important as doing the research itself. It is a passion which has only been enhanced over the past three years in the creation of the PhD Support and Social Network (@LboroPhDSN).
If I have inspired you to write or if you’d like to read any of my blog posts, or anyone else’s, you can visit http://studentmindsorg.blogspot.co.uk/ or contact me through the above Twitter user name. You can also visit the PhD Social and Support Network every Tuesday between 12.30 and 13.30 in Graduate House. It’s not just a place for students to receive support but also an opportunity to just socialise, meet others and make new friends in a non-academic setting.