Mental health in academia: A review of the evidence

8 December 2017, 3.30 PM - 8 December 2017, 4.30 PM

2nd Floor Psychology Postgraduate Common Room (12a Priory Road)

Many of us who have worked in academic research will have experience of mental health challenges either personally or through colleagues and friends. Some recent high-profile cases, like the suicide of a professor based in London in 2014 and the recent suicide of a professor in the US earlier this year have sparked renewed discussions about supporting the mental health of academics.

The mental health needs of undergraduate students have been receiving increasing attention from university leadership and representative bodies, particularly in the UK. However, the same level of attention has not been given to academic staff at universities and other higher education institutions. As concerns grow about the mental health challenges faced by academic researchers, several organisations involved in supporting academic research have become interested in better understanding these challenges, and how researchers could be better supported. RAND Europe recently reviewed the evidence in this area for the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust, finding that there is still a lack of robust data, but nevertheless still strong grounds for concern.

The available evidence suggests that the wellbeing of academic staff is worse than for individuals in other types of employment. In fact, the levels of burnout among university staff are comparable to ‘high- risk’ groups, such as healthcare workers. This talk will provide an overview of the existing evidence on mental health and wellbeing in the academic workplace, consider future avenues for further work in this area, and open up a discussion on how we can better support each other and ourselves to be healthy and happy in our research careers. 

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