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“Our Academic Discipline is Making Us Sicker” 

Scott Magelssen, “Our Academic Discipline is Making Us Sicker.” Special Section: ASTR’s 60th Anniversary. Theatre Survey 57.3 (September, 2016) 389-394.

That’s right, sicker. At least insofar as sick is a social construct (more on that later). I’m speaking specifically about declining mental health, and for this short essay I focus on our most emergent of theatre and performance-studies scholars: our graduate students. Few of us would disagree that there has always been a significant amount of depression and anxiety among our masters and doctoral students. Recent studies, however, find that more grad students are reporting significant mental health issues today than in any past generation. Perhaps these higher numbers are simply a matter of different and better diagnosing. More likely, those entering graduate programs today have more stressors outside academia: family responsibilities, financial concerns, and culture-related anxiety (more minorities and other historically disenfranchised groups and international students are entering graduate programs than ever before). Moreover, the increase in treatments in the past decades has enabled more students with a history of mental health issues to make it to higher education. It’s not the purpose of this short piece to suss out the kinds of student in our programs more likely to be mentally and emotionally distressed. Instead, I look at what we should be doing not to make it worse for the students we have in the years ahead, actions that will benefit the field as a whole and all of us individually….

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