It has been roughly a year since I started volunteering at a mental health charity. This is a reflection on what motivated me to do so, and how these motivations have developed over the course of the past year.
When it’s difficult to initiate conversations about mental health, it might be easier to talk about mental health through the medium of Beatles songs. We will have to pretend, however, that none of these songs are about drugs. But many of the Beatles songs express complex and contradictory states of mind, which can be quite reassuring and illuminating.
A post following my department’s annual PhD student retreat to the Firbush outdoor centre at Loch Tay, and why it is nice for PhD students to be able to have fun every once in a while.
Doing a PhD can be isolating, frustrating and dispiriting. However, I found the regular exercise from playing korfball to be really beneficial to my work. This is a post about how playing a team sport helped me get through some of the bad days of doing research.
A majority of mental health awareness campaigns are directed towards talking about mental health. While talking is immensely helpful in spreading awareness about mental health and resources available, and it dispels the stigma around mental illness, there is also a sense in which talking alone is quite limited, and I suggest that in addition to talking about mental health we should also be listening.
On 26 October, the journal Nature published the results of its 2017 biennial graduate student survey, which found that over a quarter of PhD students report mental health as a significant concern during their PhD. However, as much as these results shed light on the problem of mental health in academia, there is a sense that the survey not only vastly underestimates the prevalence of mental health issues, but it also fails to represent some of the specific concerns and challenges faced in the Humanities.
Google, in partnership with the US National Alliance on Mental Illness, has recently announced a feature to help diagnose people with depression by presenting them with the PHQ-9 questionnaire if they search for depression. In what is roughly a follow-up to a previous piece about Instagram and diagnosing mental illness, I consider whether or not tech giants like Google should be dealing with this kind of sensitive data, or whether or not they are in some ways part of the problem.
Can and should one’s Instagram feed be used to predict whether or not one has depression? Recent developments in machine learning combine people’s usage of Instagram with existing data on mood and colour to train AI to be able to predict signs of depression amongst users. But this might not necessarily be a good thing.