Mental health of early-career researchers

The current mental health status of early-career researchers in academia is disconcerting, with over half of all postdocs and PhD candidates being at risk of developing serious mental health issues. Common underlying causes seem to be related to high work pressure, publication/grant pressure, lack of academic career prospects/support, and work-life imbalance. This situation is alarming and requires action by the government, institutions employing early-career researchers and the early-career researchers and their supervisory teams themselves. Recognizing this need for action, NWO initiated and facilitated a workshop during which several stakeholders discussed ways to improve the mental health of early-career researchers. Together with PNN, PostdocNL has summarized the list of recommendations and compiled a report. Specifically, we identify 8 areas where action is needed:

(1) Representation and involvement,
(2) Supervision and support by leadership,
(3) Performance evaluation and job requirements,
(4) Funding and career perspectives,
(5) Monitoring and creating awareness of mental health,
(6) Providing (access to) help,
(7) Specific actions in relation to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,
(8) Specific actions aimed at international early-career researchers.

With our recommendations, we hope to encourage action towards a healthier academic environment. You can read the full report here.