Nationwide assessment of the mental health of UK doctoral researchers

Hazell, Cassie M, Niven, Jeremy E, Chapman, Laura, Roberts, Paul E, Cartwright-Hatton, Sam, Valeix, Sophie and Berry, Clio (2021) Nationwide assessment of the mental health of UK doctoral researchers. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8 (1). a305 1-9. ISSN 2662-9992

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Abstract

Doctoral Researchers (DRs) are an important part of the academic community and, after graduating, make substantial social and economic contributions. Despite this importance, DR wellbeing has long been of concern. Recent studies have concluded that DRs may be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, yet direct comparisons of the prevalence of mental health problems between this population and control groups are lacking. Here, by comparing DRs with educated working controls, we show that DRs report significantly greater anxiety and depression, and that this difference is not explained by a higher rate of pre-existing mental health problems. Moreover, most DRs perceive poor mental health as a ‘normal’ part of the PhD process. Thus, our findings suggest a hazardous impact of PhD study on mental health, with DRs being particularly at risk of developing common mental health problems. This provides an evidence-based mandate for universities and funders to reflect upon practices related to DR training and mental health. Our attention should now be directed towards understanding what factors may explain heightened anxiety and depression among DRs so as to inform preventative measures and interventions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2021 14:58
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2021 12:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101679

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