Depression in postgraduate students

Achieving success at postgraduate level of study requires good state of mind, time, money, undivided attention and other resources. Partial or total absence of any of these may result in prolonged academic program or even quitting. Other social factors that affect the achievement of success, especially at the postgraduate level are the absence of an enabling environment and negative attitude from the lecturers. These are triggers for students with psychological problems such as depression and suicidal tendencies.

At times, the act of assuming the position of a god by some lecturers is bad. Words of encouragement can go a long way in shaping peoples’ future, the same way words of discouragement could mar futures.

Few months ago, I witnessed an occurrence in one of our frontline universities in Nigeria; a postgraduate student who had failed a course the previous session went to meet the lecturer in charge in order to sort out his continuous assessment after he had re-registered for the course. After greeting the professor and telling him about what he came for, the professor responded, “Yes! Is it my fault that you failed? Or is it my fault that the result was released lately? Go and do a critical review of chapter three of …. And if you fail again, we are here for you”, and he started laughing. I and other bystanders were greatly shocked as to how an elderly person could be so mean. Yes, we want to produce excellent students but is this not too much?

If you cannot encourage students who are facing one challenge or the other, then do not add insult to their injury. We must all learn to be our brother’s keeper. When we notice that a friend is being too silent, let us inquire and help. Our higher institutions must also be equipped with functional psychological facilities and awareness must be created for students to go there and seek help whenever they are down.

Ishola Akintunde

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