The past ten years have seen mounting evidence that graduate students are facing increasing levels of stress and anxiety. In spite of this trend, little is known about the distribution of stress and stressors across diverse subgroups of master’s and doctoral students. Even less is known about student pathways to care, or about the effectiveness of resources, policies, and practices designed to create healthier departmental and campus cultures.
With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and The Jed Foundation (JED) embarked on a project designed to address this gap across all broad fields of graduate study. Our primary objective was to create an evidence base that could meaningfully guide future research and action. More specifically, we sought to survey the current landscape of resources, policies and processes that graduate institutions currently use to promote graduate student well-being; to understand the extent to which resources and practices are tailored to the needs of specific communities, in particular, students of color;
to examine barriers that exist for implementing accessible policies and programs; and to learn whether interventions are being assessed for their effectiveness.
As we undertook this work, we engaged the voices and perspectives of groups with strong investments in the success of master’s and doctoral students. Over 22 months, a series of research activities gathered information and perspectives from graduate deans, graduate students, student affairs professionals, disciplinary society representatives, and researchers. Through surveys and analysis of qualitative data derived from campus listening sessions and a stakeholder convening, we developed a Statement of Principles and Commitments of Graduate Deans, an evidence-based framework to guide the development of campus-wide, systemic approaches to graduate student mental health and well-being. This framework serves as a blueprint for action that graduate deans can use to engage a broad group of partners in supporting their students. To date, the framework, along with its 2021 accountability goals, has been endorsed by over 150 institutions in the U.S.
In addition to this framework, the project resulted in specific recommendations to key groups: senior university leaders, graduate programs directors and department chairs, graduate students, and funders. Like the Statement of Principles and Commitments, this broader set of recommendations recognizes that a wide range of individuals will play a role in creating healthy environments where all graduate students have the potential to thrive.
Regardless of your role in graduate education—graduate student, student affairs professional, faculty, dean, provost, president, or scholar of graduate education—it is our hope that you will find guidance and resources in this report that will help you make a positive and lasting impact on the well-being of graduate students and on the health and inclusiveness of program environments.
Read more attached below.