Dean Mark Wallace and Provost Susan Wente,

The undersigned graduate student employees request that Vanderbilt guarantees that no student seeking mental health care at the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) be turned away at any time. We request this in light of recent reports from graduate student colleagues about changes to the PCC’s policies made over the summer. In years past, graduate students in need of mental health care did not have limits on their access to ongoing therapy sessions. Starting this academic year, however, the PCC may limit the number of visits for Vanderbilt students seeking long-term mental health services, now referring them to providers in the Nashville community.  As the new statement of services on the PCC webpage states,

“On average, clients come for about 6 sessions. Your provider will review your plan of care which may include additional PCC treatment, PCC group therapy options, referral to an external provider or treatment program, or collaboration with campus partners.”

Very few of these providers currently accept our student insurance plan. These providers are spread throughout the city, burdening graduate students who depend on the PCC’s on-campus location that saves them money and time. While we appreciate the administration’s efforts to negotiate insurance coverage with some of these providers, these changes could still cost some of our colleagues anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 per year out-of-pocket. These out-of-pocket costs for mental health are a sure path to bankruptcy on a graduate employee stipend–a consequence that has already resulted for one of our colleagues, who declared bankruptcy this summer after our insurance provider denied coverage for his mental health treatment. Thus, we respectfully request that Vanderbilt guarantee that no student seeking mental health care at the PCC be turned away, or, if it is necessary to refer students to community providers, that Vanderbilt guarantee coverage of all additional expenses for the student.

For graduate students working under high pressure and facing an increasingly competitive academic job market, these developments should be cause for concern. Researchers at Ghent University recently discovered that over half of PhD students in Flanders, Belgium reported at least two symptoms of poor mental health, and are at much greater risk of psychiatric disorders than highly educated employees in the general population. Additionally, a 2015 study at the University of California, Berkeley found that 47% of graduate students suffer from depression, following up a 2005 study that showed 10% had contemplated suicide. These findings are corroborated repeatedly. Suffice it to say: mental health coverage is a basic necessity for graduate student success.

Graduate worker mental health is also a major issue for the University. Vanderbilt depends on PhD students to advance the University’s scientific and humanistic research. We are employed as laboratory staff, research assistants, and TAs. And as students, we produce dissertations that make original contributions to our fields. Suffering from mental illness degrades individual  and group research output, ultimately creating serious financial costs for universities. Thus, given its dependence on graduate student productivity, it is in Vanderbilt’s best interest to ensure that our basic mental health needs are fully met.

We understand that it takes significant resources to meet the mental health care needs of a community as large as Vanderbilt. And we appreciate initiatives by the PCC, Dean of Students, and Center for Student Wellbeing, among others. But we believe this request is a necessary investment in the University’s flourishing. Inadequate mental health services for graduate students leads to poor personal outcomes, high turnover rates, and decreased competitiveness in the global academic industry. In view of these concerns, we implore Vanderbilt to meet our above requests regarding mental health care coverage starting now–for our benefit as well as the University’s.


  1. Sabeen Ahmed, Department of Philosophy
  2. Kelly Swope, Department of Philosophy
  3. Sebastian Ramirez, Department of Philosophy
  4. Boomer Trujillo, Department of Philosophy
  5. Derek Price, Department of German, Russian, and East European Studies
  6. J.W. Hubbard, Department of History; Graduate Teaching Fellow, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching
  7. Yonathan Reches, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  8. Nathan Dize, Department of French & Italian
  9. Amanda Lehr, ABD, English
  10. Laura Strömbergsson, German/CMAP
  11. Emily Matijevich, Mechanical Engineering
  12. Lénie Torregrossa, Department of Psychology
  13. Marissa Jones, Chemistry
  14. Sara Eccleston, CRA
  15. Gabriela Ore, Department of Anthropology
  16. Abbey Loehr, Doctoral Candidate
  17. Amy Shaw, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  18. Alexandra Alekseyeva, Philosophy
  19. Marc Trussler, Political Science, PhD student
  20. Sean O’Shaughnessy, Graduate Student in Political Science
  21. Wietske Smeele, English PhD Candidate
  22. Jacob Ruden, Neuroscience
  23. Rachel Heath, PhD student, Graduate Department of Religion
  24. Cheryl Law, Biochemistry
  25. Jennifer Alexaner, doctoral student
  26. Jordan Nikkel, Graduate student, Mathematics
  27. Cassandra Painter, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  28. Lam Pham, PhD Student
  29. Katrina Olson, Graduate Department of Religion
  30. Laura Hieber, Clinical Psychology
  31. Emma Banks, Department of Anthropology
  32. Keitlyn Alcantara
  33. Phyllis Johnson
  34. Lydia Harmon, PhD candidate – Earth and Environmental Sciences
  35. Kristina Lee, Department of Anthropology
  36. Kyle L. Harper, Department of Anthropology
  37. Ashkan Bahrani, Religion, PhD Student
  38. Amie Thurber, PhD Candidate, Human and Organizational Development
  39. Lyn Radke, Department of Philosophy
  40. Rustam Gatamov, Physics PhD student
  41. Alex Korsunsky, dept. of Anthropology
  42. Chelsey Dyer, Anthropology, PhD student
  43. Alison Lutz, PhD student, Religion
  44. Rosemary Lieske, Department of Anthropology
  45. Eva M Biedron, Department of Earth and Environmental Science
  46. Scottie Norman, Department of Anthroplogy
  47. Marta Eugenia Zavaleta Lemus
  48. Carla Hernández, Department of Anthropology
  49. Paromita Nath, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  50. Hayden Janathan, Mathematics, PhD Student
  51. Jessica Paredes, Chemistry
  52. Jesse Montgomery, English PhD Student
  53. Cristina Robinson, Biological Sciences, PhD Candidate
  54. Danyelle Valentine, History, PhD Candidate
  55. Cara Bailey, Department of French and Italian, PhD Student
  56. Brandon Strickland, Mathematics, PhD Student
  57. Nathan Frisch, Anthropology
  58. Maya Krause, Department of Anthropology
  59. Leonard Curry, Religion, PhD Student
  60. Nicole Diggins, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biological Sciences
  61. Holly Longair, Philosophy, PhD Student
  62. Sarah Gorman, Philosophy Department
  63. Hannah Ingersoll, Sociology
  64. Jordan Best, Biological Sciences
  65. Grace Chen, Department of Teaching and Learning, PhD Student
  66. Caitlin Ely, Teaching and Learning
  67. Sagen Eatwell, Dept. of Latin American Studies, Peabody IEPM
  68. Christian Marks, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
  69. Sari Carter, PhD Candidate, English Department
  70. Qiliang He, Department of Psychology
  71. Anna Carella, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science
  72. Tyler Perfitt, Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  73. Carrie Wiese, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
  74. Andrew La Croix, Department of Chemistry
  75. Thomas Holaday, Department of Philosophy
  76. Cassandra Scaffidi, Department of Anthropology
  77. Kelly Gilmore, Department of Chemistry
  78. Serena McMillan, Graduate Department of Religion
  79. Connie Wang, Department of Philosophy, PhD Student
  80. Merla Hubler, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
  81. Elijah Trefts, Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  82. Nicole Audette, PhD Political Science
  83. Scout McFall, Master in Theological Studies
  84. Elizabeth Barna, Ph.D. Program in Sociology
  85. Brennica Marlow, Ph.D. Candidate, Chemical and Physical Biology
  86. Terren Proctor, Department of Anthropology
  87. Laura Sellers, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science
  88. Kyle Horning, Neuroscience Graduate Program
  89. Carla O’Neale, Biology
  90. Diane Saunders, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics
  91. Berna Muñoz, Spanish and Portuguese
  92. Juliet Larkin-Gilmore, PhD Candidate, History
  93. David Vila, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  94. Maria Fomicheva, Biology, PhD Candidate
  95. Brooke Patton, MS Candidate, Department of Earth and Environmental Science
  96. Ryan Brand, Religion
  97. Rose S. Perea, Physics and Astronomy/Doctoral Candidate
  98. Kazi Tasneem, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  99. Tempest M Henning, Department of Philosophy
  100. Kent Hallman, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  101. Lisa Lojek, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
  102. Claire Marvinney, Ph.D. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Materials Science
  103. Tyler Doane, Ph.D. Candidate, Earth and Environmental Science
  104. Eliana Peck, PhD Student, Philosophy
  105. Jesse Bertron, MFA Candidate, Creative Writing
  106. Tam Bui, Economics PhD Student
  107. Werner B. Hertzog, Anthropology
  108. Kathryn Peters, Department of Anthropology
  109. Cydnee Devereux, Creative Writing
  110. Nadejda Webb, Ph.D. student and instructor, Department of English and CMAP
  111. Kellie Cavagnaro, Anthropology/CMAP
  112. Timothy Dwight Davis, MA student, Graduate Department of Religion
  113. Michael Pridmore, Chemical and Physical Biology
  114. Mackenzie Whitman, Civil Engineering
  115. Alexis McBride, Ph.D. Student, Teaching & Learning
  116. Meagan Postema, Cell and Developmental Biology
  117. Mason Garrison, Psychological Sciences
  118. Eric MacPhail, Philosophy, doctoral student
  119. Jade Bing, Department of Chemistry
  120. Olivia Murray, PhD Student, LPO
  121. Abigail Searfoss, PhD Candidate, Chemical and Physical Biology
  122. Mohammad Meerzaei, Graduate Department of Religion, PhD Student  
  123. Dorothy Dean, Graduate Department of Religion
  124. Miles Bryan, Neuroscience
  125. Emerson Bodde, Department of Philosophy
  126. Sophia Stid, Creative Writing
  127. Adele Malpert, PhD Student, Community Research and Action
  128. Loran Kelly, Clinical Psychology
  129. Daniel Romero, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  130. Rashid Yasin, Mechanical Engineering, PhD Student
  131. Alyssa Lowery, PhD Student, Philosophy Department
  132. Caroline Braun, Department of Chemistry
  133. Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler, Civil and Environmental Engineering/PhD Student
  134. Stephanie Castillo, Ph.D. Chemistry/Graduate Student
  135. Veronica Farmer, PhD Candidate, Cell and Developmental Biology
  136. Westley Bauer, Chemistry, PhD Student
  137. Zachary Tripp, Mathematics, PhD Student
  138. Tim Michaels, Mathematics
  139. Shiying Li
  140. Sahana H Balasubramanya, PhD Candidate, Mathematics
  141. Bryan Jacobson, PhD student, Mathematics
  142. Zachary Gaslowitz, PhD Student, Mathematics
  143. Megan Dumas, PhD Candidate, Cell and Developmental Biology
  144. Kelly O’Connell, PhD Candidate, Mathematics
  145. David Chan, PhD Student, Mathematics
  146. Ahram Feigenbaum, Mathematics
  147. Holly Sucharski, PhD Student, Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
  148. Alexandria Oviatt, Chemical and Physical Biology
  149. Annika Faucon, Human Genetics, PhD Student
  150. Stephanie Davis, Creative Writing
  151. Sarah Maddox, PhD Student, Chemical and Physical Biology
  152. Alyssa Rodriguez, PhD Student, Biological Sciences
  153. Spencer Waddle, PhD Student
  154. Tolu Omokehinde, Cancer Biology Graduate Program, PhD Student
  155. Longxiu Huang, Mathematics Phd student
  156. Bin Sun, Mathematics phd
  157. Amaryah Armstrong, PhD Student, Graduate Department of Religion
  158. Kaelyn Warne, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  159. Baig Abdullah Al Muhit, Civil Engineering, PhD student
  160. Shatavia Wynn, Graduate Department of Religion/PhD Student
  161. Allie Utley, PhD student, Graduate Department of Religion
  162. Sarah Miele, Civil and Environmental Engineering, PhD Student
  163. Mark Haslam, Creative Writing
  164. Levi Sledd, PhD student, Mathematics
  165. Megan Aumann, Neuroscience
  166. James O’Connor, Ph.D. student, Cell and Developmental Biology
  167. Leah Dundon, PhD Candidate, engineering
  168. Rj Robles, M. Div student, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  169. Jenaba D. Waggy, MDiv candidate, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  170. Samantha Bellamy, MSN Student
  171. Evan Regis Bunch, Masters of Divinity
  172. Andrew Krinks, Graduate Department of Religion
  173. Erica JP Anderson, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics/PhD Candidate
  174. Diane Palmer, Master of Divinity
  175. Alice Proia, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
  176. Ariel De La Torre, Master’s student, VUSN
  177. Stephanie, Divinity/student
  178. Alex Vlasiuk, PhD student, Mathematics
  179. Tyler Kennedy, Biological Sciences
  180. Emma Zyriek, Grad Student, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  181. Sarah Stell, Master of Divinity Candidate
  182. Arman Darbinyan, Mathematics
  183. Kelly Stewart, PhD student, Graduate Department of Religion
  184. Shelby Lewis, Master’s of Divinity
  185. Margaret Erns, MDiv
  186. Terrell Taylor, Department of English
  187. Hayley Elliott, Divinity School Alumnae
  188. Caroline Beard Colquhoun, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
  189. Carly Misenheimer, MDiv Candidate, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  190. Ann Peyton Williams, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  191. Julia Liden, Masters of Theological Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  192. Haley Eidem, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Biological Sciences
  193. Martha Kathryn Beck, MDiv
  194. Laine Walters Young, PhD Candidate, Graduate Department of Religion
  195. Kathryn Minnis, Masters of Divinity
  196. Elizabeth G, Graduate Student
  197. Lauren Tillman, Masters of Divinity
  198. Katherine Aboud, Neuroscience
  199. Kira Braham, English PhD
  200. Jorge Salas, Physics and Astronomy, PhD
  201. Abbey Labrecque, Masters of Divinity
  202. Hilary Scarsella, PhD student, Graduate Department of Religion
  203. Dawn Bennetr, Master’s of Divinity
  204. Annie Harris, MTS, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  205. Caissa Revilla, Department of Anthropology
  206. Zachary Tripp, PhD Student, Mathematics
  207. Nathan Felds, Masters in Special Education, Peabody College
  208. Michael Sekuras, PhD Candidate, Graduate Department of Religion
  209. Charlie Geyer, Ph.D. Student, Spanish and Portuguese
  210. Mollie Donihe, MDiv Student, Vanderbilt Divinity School
  211. Lorena Infante Lara, PhD Candidate, Department of Biochemistry
  212. Chelsea Biegler, Masters in Nurse-Midwifery, VUSN
  213. Teresa Pecinovsky, MDIV
  214. Gina Absi, CEE
  215. Roxanne Crittenden, MSN Student, VUSN
  216. Richard Lawless, Biomedical Engineering
  217. Li Wang, Environmental Engineering
  218. Yingxiao Kong, Civil Engineering
  219. Berkcan Kapusuzoglu, Civil Engineering
  220. William “Eric” Burke, Environmental Engineering
  221. Minh Nghiem, Civil Engineering
  222. Tessa Popay, PhD Candidate, Cell and Developmental Biology
  223. Sophia Clark, Grad Student, German
  224. Edward Dawson, PhD Candidate, Department of German, Russian, and East European Studies
  225. Rudraprasad Bhattacharyya, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  226. Zach Feldman, Department of German/CMAP
  227. Meghan McGinley, Department of French and Italian
  228. Andrew Stone Porter, Religion, PhD Student
  229. Elsa S. Mercado, PhD Student, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
  230. Patrick Anthony, PhD Candidate, History
  231. Pouria Salehi Nowbandegani, Mathematics, PhD student
  232. Sarah DiMaggio, Philosophy, PhD Student
  233. Allison Norlander, PhD from the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics dept. 
  234. Andrew Kellum, Chemistry
  235. Sofia Jimenez, PhD Candidate, Psychology and Human Development
  236. Caroline E. Abraham, Economics, PhD program
  237. Daniela Osorio Michel, Political Science, PhD Student
  238. Brandon M Chisholm, PhD Student, Environmental Engineering
  239. Emily Lawler, PhD Candidate, Economics
  240. Aileen Teague, PhD Candidate (History) 
  241. Maggie Deichert, Political Science
  242. Laura Vega, Astrophysics PhD Student
  243. Bonnie Griffin, Department of French and Italian, PhD student
  244. Hanna Lipkind, Philosophy
  245. Jennifer Bega, PhD Candidate, Cognitive & Systems Neuroscience
  246. Megan Robinson, Sociology, PhD Student
  247. Fernanda Bretones Lane, Doctoral Candidate, History Department
  248. Kyle Godbey, Physics PhD Student
  249. Srijata Chakravorti, PhD Student, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  250. Andrea Becker, PhD student, Sociology
  251. Katrina Leaptrot, Department of Chemistry
  252. Hui Hao, PhD student in Department of Economics
  253. Harshini Devathi, Mechanical Engineering
  254. Ka Kwan Almond Sin, Graduate Department of Religion, Hebrew Bible
  255. Tess Lantos, PhD Student (Education) 
  256. Jonathon Speed, History, Phd Student
  257. Elaine Ritter, PhD Candidate, Neuroscience
  258. Joanna Huh, Department of English, PhD Candidate
  259. Kristine Koutout, Economics
  260. Amanda Duran, Department of Chemistry
  261. Ying Liu, PhD Student
  262. Anna Young, PhD Student, History Department
  263. Audra Foshage, PhD candidate, Cell & Developmental Biology
  264. Chad M Attenborough, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  265. Philip J. Pettis, Sociology
  266. Mehnaaz Asad, Phd, Astrophysics
  267. HeeJu Jang, Department of Political Science, PhD student
  268. Kerri-Ann Anderson, Biological Sciences
  269. Jenna Payne, Chemistry
  270. Peter Viehler, Sociology
  271. Mehmet Takar, Biological Sciences
  272. Andrea Gardiner, PhD Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  273. James Harrison, Economics
  274. Christopher Sichko, Econ
  275. Megan Lewis, MSN Student, School of Nursing
  276. Hannah Ingersoll, Sociology PhD
  277. Jun Zhao, PhD Student, Economics
  278. Kishundra King, Graduate Department of Religion
  279. SangEun Kim, Political Science, PhD Student
  280. Jesse McCarthy, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  281. Rachel Harris, Chemistry
  282. Shirley Roitberg, Dept of Psychology
  283. Natalya Ortolano, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology
  284. Amanda Brockman, Sociology
  285. Kelly Barnett, Ph.D. candidate, Biochemistry
  286. Peter Capretto, PhD Candidate
  287. Laurel Jackson, Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience
  288. Sarah Cook, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History
  289. Katherine McKenna, PhD Candidate, History
  290. Yuanzhe Liang, Ph.D student
  291. Oscar Ortega, Chemical and Psychical Biology
  292. Emily J. Ross, PhD Candidate, Chemical and Physical Biology
  293. Mary Bridges, PhD Candidate, Department of History
  294. Dan Reynolds, PhD Candidate, Teaching and Learning
  295. Lauren Hartsough, Ph.D Student, Psychology Dept
  296. Hrvoje Stojanovic, Mathematics, PhD Student
  297. Efi Akam, MD Candidate, VUSM
  298. Evonne McArthur, MD/PhD Student
  299. Emily Chan, Vanderbilt Medical School
  300. Tony Qiu, Medical student
  301. Courtney Edwards, Medical student
  302. Joshua Cockroft, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  303. Andrew Sayce, DPhil, VUSM, MD Student
  304. Jillian Berkman, M.D. Student
  305. Kalin Wilson, MD Candidate
  306. Victoria Martucci, MSTP student
  307. Patrick Wu, MD/PhD Candidate, Department of Biomedical Informatics
  308. Didi Odinkemelu, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  309. Mollie Limb, MD Candidate
  310. Tanya Marvi, M.D. Student
  311. Sonal Walia, VUSM
  312. Catherine Havemann, MD Candidate, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  313. Rachel Strait, Resident, OMFS
  314. Deborah Xie, MD Candidate
  315. Grant MacKinnon, MD Candidate, School of Medicine  
  316. Sneha Rajendran, MD Candidate
  317. Kelly Schuering, MD Candidate, VUSM
  318. Jonathan Alverio, MD Candidate
  319. Juan Colazo, MD Candidate
  320. Bianca Martinez, MD Candidate
  321. Shervin Etemad, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  322. Joseph Starnes, MD/MPH Candidate, VUSM
  323. Pritha Multani, MD Student
  324. Kareem Fakhoury, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  325. Graham Johnson, MTSPH (MD/PhD) Candidate
  326. Michelle York, MD Candidate
  327. Emily Birnbaum, Vanderbilt School of Nursing
  328. Nkechi Nwabueze, MD Candidate
  329. Whittney Wiley, MD Candidate
  330. Jooeun Knag, MD PhD Candidate
  331. Meredith Antonette Monsour, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  332. Marc Blatt, MD Candidate
  333. Sir Norman Melancon, MD Candidate
  334. Caroline Erickson, MD student
  335. Jacob Fleming, MD Candidate
  336. Allyson Wolf, MD Candidate
  337. Rafael Tamargo, School of Medicine
  338. Natalie Jackson, M.D. Candidate
  339. Megan Mitchell, MD Candidate, School of Medicine
  340. Justin Smith, MD Candidate
  341. Joseph M Ebersole, MD Candidate
  342. Jonathan Knowlton, MD/PhD Candidate, School of Medicine
  343. Kaitlyn Weeber, MD Candidate
  344. Brandyn Churchill, PhD Student, Economics
  345. Samantha Beik, MD/PhD Candidate, School of Medicine
  346. Susannah Larry, Religion, PhD Student
  347. Bianca Flores, PhD Candidate, Neuroscience
  348. Catherine Havemann, MD Candidate, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  349. Jennifer Alexander, Graduate Department of Religion, doctoral candidate
  350. Berna Munoz, Spanish and Portuguese
  351. Erin Shockley, PhD Candidate, Chemical and Physical Biology
  352. Anna Davis, Chemistry
  353. Joe Luchsinger, MD/PhD Candidate
  354. Cassandra Awgulewitsch, PhD Candidate Cell and Developmental Biology
  355. Sylvia Morrow, Department of Physics and Astronomy, PhD Candidate