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The Emotional Health of Your Mentee

Previously: Modeling and Mentoring the Life of a Researcher

Emotional well-being plays a significant role in determining research persistence. (Lent et al., 1994) As a mentor, you are in an important position to support your mentee as they navigate the challenges of research, which are often emotional in addition to intellectual and technical. (Kram, 1983, p. 614) Talk with your mentee about how to respond to the frustrations of a null finding or negative review. Knowing that stress and setbacks are navigable parts of a research career will be valuable for your mentees as they move deeper into research. Likewise, underscore as accomplishments activities that are routine for you as a senior researcher. The gap between where your mentee is and where you and even your graduate students are can seem insurmountable from your mentee’s perspective. Make sure your mentee sees their progress over the summer as the victory that it is. Doing so will be especially helpful in the context of research in the era of COVID-19. If you have an opportunity to highlight your mentee’s talents or progress in a public forum, do so. (Kram, 1983, p. 614) Reach out to your institution’s Summer Research Coordinator, as well as your mentee’s advisors from their home institution if something related to your mentee’s physical or emotional health appears to be negatively impacting your mentee’s summer research experience. Be sure to observe all relevant policies for confidentiality and reporting responsibility.

Also be sure to review your university’s disciplinary policies so that you know where your mentee should turn if they have been involved in a matter that requires disciplinary attention. Many of these policies may still apply despite your mentee’s not being on campus this summer. Be in touch with your institution’s Summer Research Coordinator and know who your university ombudsperson and Title IX coordinators are in the event that they may be able to help.

Action Items:

  1. Find time to talk about how social distancing and the move to remote work affected you, empathizing with the shift in the student’s experience.
  2. If you think your mentee needs additional support, contact the program coordinator at your site.

Up next: Mentoring Toward the Virtual Leadership Alliance National Symposium (VLANS)