On March 2nd, members of the PhD Network Steering Committee (SC) met with Marvin Bähr of the Leibniz Head Office and Claudia Müller, Head of the Leibniz Leadership Academy, to discuss topics that could be covered in the Leadership Academy for institute directors, project principal investigators, and research group leaders. The SC proposed several ideas, including strategies for addressing diversity in more tangible ways; enhancing measures to prevent power abuse; establishing limits on the number of PhD candidates that leaders can supervise with already full schedules; and offering leadership coaching to PhDs to promote effective academic leadership.
Avoiding a mental health crisis in academia (and beyond)
In the latest issue of the Leibniz Magazine, an article was published, in which a doctoral researcher, a resilience researcher and three managers were interviewed on the topic of mental health at the workplace. Among them Pankhuri Saxena, a former Spokesperson (2020/2021) of the Leibniz PhD Network.
The number of people missing work due to mental health issues is rising, a trend not only present in science and research. Due to the increasingly competitive nature of academia, early-career researchers increasingly suffer from uncertainty, pressure, and stress. The intense pressure and demands of a doctorate can take a toll on a person’s mental well-being, leading to symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you are interested in the interview have a read here.
In November 2021 the “Guide to Mental Health during the PhD” was passed by the Leibniz Association. It was collated by Sebastian Lentz (director of the Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde) in close collaboration with Leibniz institutes and the Leibniz PhD Network. The guide states three fields of action: raising awareness, prevention, and counselling, while it also provides recommendations of measures to be taken. You can find the guide here.
Yet, Jan Klenke (former Spokesperson 2020/2021) critically comments:
“There are still many PhDs on scholarships (i.e., without an official working contract and in voluntary statutory health insurance). This situation enhances the described (mental health) problems in this group. At the same time, this group isn’t on anyone’s budget plan and is usually not mentioned in target agreements. In many cases, the doctoral students are without proper guidance, even if they ask for more supervision.”
Mental health (during the PhD) remains an important topic, seemingly for the foreseeable future. Let us know your ideas and comments on the topic. What would you need to reduce mental stress during your PhD? Leave us a comment or get in touch on our social media platforms.
Huge leap for Mental health awareness: Leibniz Association adopts guide on mental health of Doctoral Researchers.
Recently working group Survey of the PhD Network assessed the well being of the PhD researchers in the various Leibniz associations based on a conducted survey. The lack of proper means to address mental health well-being sparked discussions. Adoption of the mental health guide within the Leibniz Association addresses the issue of mental health of our doctoral researchers.
The guide deals with steps to decrease the psychological stress during the PhD.
Clear fields of actions are stated which can be implemented in all the institutes. Actions like awareness-raising, removing taboos from mental health and how to recognize critical factors leading to mental health issues and many more are elaborated on the guide
Realizing that PhD on its own can be stressful and the uncertainties with the career path ahead can get overwhelming, but knowing that the Leibniz association will be there to guide and counsel the researchers who need it comes as a reassuring support.
The guide is attached as follows.