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Peter Tennant @PWGTennant
, 12 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
#Academia is brutal if you have anxiety &/or depression. I doubt I'm the only one falling apart at the end of a long year

Solidarity to everyone struggling with the remorseless criticism, crippling workload & systemic bullying. Hope you have a long & healing rest over Christmas
Academia harms mental health, & mental health harms academic performance. The two have become so difficult to separate that #HigherEd management can dismiss #MentalHealth problems as individual-level problems, due to 'overly sensitive' staff who can't cope.
But even if true - and academics are some unique brand of 'snowflakes' - what is done to help? Lunch time meditation? Resilience training? Visits from a 'therapy animal'? These are outrageously sticking-plaster solutions to a gaping wound.
Why are we depressed?

Because no matter how hard we work or what insights we bring, our value is judged only by the income we bring. Over time, it's natural to absorb that narrative, and lose belief in your own value.
Why are we anxious?

Because we're never secure. We've been forced to compete when we just want to co-operate. And we're constantly judged against unfair or impossible targets, and blamed and punished for not achieving them.
Why do we panic?

Because we know we cannot achieve what's demanded without sacrificing our values. It's simple but stark. Work properly, recognise complexity, and get pushed out for 'perfectionism'. Work badly, cut corners, survive, & face up to what you've sold in the process.
How long will UK #academia fail to recognise its greatest assets are not papers, projects, patents, or products, but people? Amazing people teaching amazing people and together making the world better for everyone. In those wonderful ways that cannot be measured by money.
Academia likes to sneer at those who left. But I admire them. Those who saw the abusive choice and said 'no!'. The longer you stay, the more the criticm and the narrative of failure gets in your bones. You forget you have any skills beyond apparently disappointing everyone.
Abuse is a very strong word. It's also sadly the only word to describe a relationship that makes you feel more alone & at fault the longer you stay.

If that's how we treat our nation's best and most enthusiastic minds, then it's no wonder society is so ill!
#Academia is privileged. It's (relatively) well paid & often hugely rewarding.

That makes it MORE hard to admit when you're struggling. You feel guilty for not being more grateful, like you've no right to complain.

But abusive cultures should be called out wherever they exist!
I write this in the midst of examining a PhD. I'm moved as ever by the human story behind the academic endeavour. The extraordinary backbreaking toil that goes into furthing human knowledge. Worthy of such honour & pride. Yet how do we treat these heroes? It's morally bankrupt.
For past & current grad students, I'd like to share my PhD afterword...

"In an industry that depends so fundamentally on the abilities to think, focus, concentrate, & communicate a broken brain is uniquely - and completely - disabling"
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