Mental health discrimination

posted
21-May-17, 21:35
edited about 14 seconds later
by MissyL
Avatar for MissyL
posted about 1 year ago
Hi there,

Unfortunately I have mental health issues anxiety/depression/OCD that flared up early on in my PhD.
I don't know if I'm just highly sensitive but I feel I've had inappropriate comments/treatment from my university.

I had someone high up insist on a meeting where comments were made such as:

' How do you think other students feel when you're coming in later than them '
' Are you really putting in 100% effort'- I truthfully said no but that I was doing the best I could
' You might be able to get away as a PhD student, but you wont manage in a job doing these sort of hours'
' A PhD should go above and beyond 9-5'

While I appreciate some of these comments are true, I can't help my current health. My supervisor and training panel have all said they are happy and that my progress is on par with other students; so the comments are somewhat unnecessary.

I'm currently having issues with presentations. I have a social phobia and are unable to speak to large audiences. As a result I missed a compulsory departmental PhD student presentation as I was off for a week with severe anxiety/panic attacks. I was told I would have to do an alternative such as a conference talk, which is even worse....
Since then staff have tried to help by forcing me into presentations, but this has just sent me into a spiral of depression and anxiety, so I have now had to have 2 weeks off (not ideal as I'm a final year).

I know I am a pain been unable to do things such as presentations, but I also really did not chose to be this way. Am I being OTT, or is this unfair treatment? I feel as though I don't have much choice but to leave my programme.

Thanks,

Additional info: I can't take another LOA, I have a Dr's note for anxiety/depression & are registered with the University disability office & seeing a councillor.
posted
22-May-17, 09:29
edited about 4 seconds later
by Pjlu
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 1 year ago
Hi Missy,
Quote From MissyL:


I had someone high up insist on a meeting where comments were made such as:

' How do you think other students feel when you're coming in later than them '
' You might be able to get away as a PhD student, but you wont manage in a job doing these sort of hours'
' A PhD should go above and beyond 9-5'


Additional info: I can't take another LOA, I have a Dr's note for anxiety/depression & are registered with the University disability office & seeing a councillor.


The remarks quoted above are inappropriate, irrelevant and unfortunate.

a. How other students feel is not your concern, nor that of the person who made the remark.
b. Your behaviour/work habits in any future employment is not the concern of the person and they are making assumptions beyond their remit when they make these comments.
c. Any statement with 'should' in it (that isn't part of a legal or policy document) is also using a form of high moral tone that is unnecessary and, in this case, untrue. Many people on this forum have completed PhD's using a 9-5 formula that has worked well for them.

The remarks are unfortunate though, also in that while they are misguided and regrettable, people do make these assumptions and remarks, no matter what their role or position. So my perspective would be to try not to take these remarks to heart, but put them in the category of general 'tosser' remarks and file them in your mental wastepaper basket.

Can you discuss how to manage these sorts of situations with your support people, and if necessary, have the disability office help advocate for you if needed?

With regard to the presentations, the university should have provisions for reasonable adjustments. This might include recording a presentation or making a podcast perhaps? Or other forms of adjustment. However, there should be some form of policy or provision for adjustments in your situation.

Best wishes Missy. I personally hope very much that you don't believe that this is a reason why you should leave the PhD program.
posted
22-May-17, 19:28
edited about 1 second later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 1 year ago
Hi Missy

We've spoken about this before and you know my thoughts on this stuff - there are times in our lives when we're not ready or able to make the big leaps that other (usually well-meaning) people think would be for our own benefit. At the end of the day, your PhD is going to be awarded on the basis of your thesis and viva, not on anything else. I'd put money on the fact that your uni would rather see you join the 'completed PhD' stats rather than the opposite!

Honestly, unless you have some intrinsic motivation for wanting to do presentations, or are banking on a career that needs you to have this skill, I would try my best to kick this into the long grass for now. You're in your final year, on the home stretch, and between the pressures of final year and the fact that you have a diagnosis of anxiety and depression, I think you have every reason to say you will not be doing conference presentations at this time.

All the best, and don't give up.
posted
24-May-17, 05:44
edited about 5 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 year ago
Missy, there are only two people whose opinions count. Yours and your supervisors.
8f your supervisor is happy you should feel free to block everyone else out totally.
At my uni we were told by a range of miscellaneous idiots that we had to attend this seminar or that talk etc. I ignored them all. Someone emailed me asking why I wasnt attending seminars and copied my supervisor on the email. Essentially an attempt to land me in it. I emailed the person back with a terse response "I am unavaliable to attend these seminars" and copied my supervisor. Nobody gets to bully me:-) Didnt receive another message like that again.
You may not feel like it but you probably need to learn very quickly how to say No in a firm way to people or they will simply take the piss. You need to able to do it without being aggressive though.
Saying No feels fantastic because it gives you back control of your life. Something I suspect you feel you dont have which may be contributing to your problems. By the way, I would just say No to doing the presentation. They are hardly going to sack you. They NEED you to pass your viva because it looks terrible if you dont. They are also hardly likely to carry you up on stage and force you to talk. You have the control here. Feel free to start exerting it and feel the joy of No.

Oh and this is YOUR PhD. You have the right to decide what hours you work. Your co workers are irrelevant. Honestly I would laugh if anyone asked me that. My response would be that i couldnt honestly give two f**ks. As for working in industry you can deal with that as and when you get there. Industry is NOTHING like a PhD. I agree with the 9 to 5 bit although that is my personal choice. Unless there is a very good reason you really need to lfeel free to work whatever hours you want.
posted
24-May-17, 21:43
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 year ago
It is unfair treatment. But do anything you can not to leave your programme. They shouldn't force you out for such a thing, and as someone else has said, it isn't really in their interest for you to leave either.

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