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Mental health and well-being services expanded for graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows

by Oct. 3, 2016, 9:07 AM

V-acorn-logoEnsuring that graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows have access to mental health and well-being support and can avail themselves of services designed to meet their unique needs is the aim of new enhancements being launched this fall.

The university is striving to improve mental health services currently available to all graduate and professional students and has now expanded these services to cover all postdoctoral fellows holding an appointment through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. To support this shift, the Psychological and Counseling Center is dedicating a psychologist to provide consultation services and workshops tailored to these scholars.

David Sacks, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and a staff psychologist with the Psychological and Counseling Center, will divide his time between two locations – the counseling center’s building at 2015 Terrace Place and the Eskind Biomedical Library. He will work with graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows to address issues such as working in high-pressure settings, balancing devotion to academic work with personal and family commitments, self-care, and how to be resilient when confronted with challenges.

Sacks also will be available to consult with directors of graduate studies and department chairs/center directors to address psychological factors impacting student and postdoctoral success.

The Graduate School is expected to launch shortly a search for a new well-being coordinator that will complement Sacks’ work with graduate, professional and postdoctoral scholars.

“It is imperative that we provide support to our graduate and professional students and our postdoctoral fellows as they travel an often challenging path to success in the academic and professional world. The goal is for these scholars to see the setbacks they may face as obstacles that can be overcome, and these new services will provide the tools to help them do that,” Mark Wallace, dean of the Graduate School, said.

Student suggestions played a significant role in the university’s decision to enhance support for graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows. The new services add to those currently offered through the counseling center and the newly opened Center for Student Wellbeing, which counts a dissertation support group among its many offerings.

“These enhanced services are representative of the university’s commitment to the mental health and well-being of all members of the Vanderbilt community. We hope these expanded offerings will help foster a culture of caring and healthy help-seeking behavior at Vanderbilt,” Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs Cynthia Cyrus said.

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