Mental health 

Mental health

Podcast Smart & Well

October 2023: We are happy and proud to announce the start of Smart & Well, a podcast by a group of (former) PhD and Master's students from the Berlin School of Mind and Brain that dives deep into the mental health challenges faced by students and researchers in the high-pressure world of academia. Join us as we challenge the stigma, foster open conversations, and provide expert insights on topics like stress management, depression, or career insecurities.
Brought to you by a passionate group of students and researchers in Berlin, Smart & Well is on a mission to promote well-being, prevent distress, and build a supportive community.
Stay tuned for eye-opening interviews with experts in psychology, healthcare, coaching, and more. It's time to prioritize mental health in academia!

Scholar Minds

>> Upcoming Scholar Minds events here and past events here (internal links to EVENTS page)

Scholar Minds ( is a non-profit initiative created by PhD students at Charite - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, which aims to empower PhD students to face the mental health crisis in academia.

Pursuing a PhD is an adventure: Ideally, students get to follow their personal interests and gain profound knowledge of their field. However, this time can also be emotionally and physically demanding. For example, a study in US-American grad students reports high levels of stress and burn-out, fear of failure, long and unpredictable working hours, and financial strain (Boren, 2013). This is also true for PhD students in Germany. According to a recent survey of the Max Planck PhDnet, 53% of the students surveyed suffered from at least one of the following symptoms: depression, burnout, eating disorder, chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, and migraines. More than half of this group thought that these symptoms were directly related to their position as a PhD.

Scholar Minds has also conducted its own survey in 2021:

The 2022 survey is currently (Spring 2022) being conducted: . It will be published on:

Some steps can be taken before things get ugly. According to the Helmholtz Juniors survey, job satisfaction and good supervision are the most important factors regarding PhD student well-being. What can you do to increase those on your own PhD journey?

Who we are
We are a group of PhD students at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin who self-organize in this initiative trying to provide the Berlin neuroscience community with some relief. Doctoral candidates mainly from the doctoral programs of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (M&B) and the RTG 2386 Extrospection, supported by candidates of the Einstein Center for Neurosciences (ECN), the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) and the Graduate Program Medical Neurosciences, are involved in this initiative.

You will find information on lectures, publications and surveys, resources (such as a self-help tool), how to get support and where to find psychological and institutional help here:

Through sharing resources, surveying the status quo, and organizing mental health events, Scholar Minds hope to promote awareness, destigmatize mental health struggles, and empower PhD students!
Want to join?
If you are active in mental health or want to get involved, please contact us!

Towards a Global Core Value System in Doctoral Education

“Towards a Global Core Value System in Doctoral Education”
Editors: Maresi Nerad, David Bogle, Ulrike Kohl, Conor O’Carroll, Christian Peters, and Beate Scholz
ISBN: 9781800080201, Publication: September 27, 2022
Open Access PDF £0.00 :

Recent decades have seen an explosion in doctoral education worldwide. Increased potential for diverse employment has generated greater interest, with cultural, political and environmental tensions focusing the attention of new creative, responsible scholars.
Towards a Global Core Value System in Doctoral Education provides an evaluation of changes and reforms in doctoral education since 2000. Recognising the diversity of academic cultures and institutional systems worldwide, the book advocates for a core value system to overcome inequalities in access to doctoral education and the provision of knowledge. Building on in-depth perspectives of scholars and young researchers from more than 25 countries, the chapters focus on the structures and quality assurance models of doctoral education, supervision, and funding from an institutional and comparative perspective. The book examines capacity building in the era of globalisation, global labour market developments for doctoral graduates, and explores the ethical challenges and political contestations that may manifest in the process of pursuing a PhD.
Experts and early career researchers in the Global North and South collaborated in interdisciplinary and intergenerational teams to develop guidelines for doctoral education. They learned from each other about how to act courageously within a complex global context. The resulting recommendations and reflections are an invitation to reflect on the frames and conditions of doctoral education today.

Conference on “Mental Health in PhD Students” on 19 October 2021

Read more here

Two guides on Mental Health dated 6 May 2021

The Berlin Institute of Health in collaboration with many local Early Career Researchers and Scholar Minds have released the results of their big mental health brainstorming event that took place in February 2021. Two guides resulted from many fruitful discussions at the event.

(1) The first one speaks directly to ECRs: how can we stay on top of the mental health game during the pandemic? Even though this situation has been going on for over a year now and an end is coming into sight - it's still okay to not be okay right now.

(2) The second one discusses the mental health and leadership behavior of PIs during the pandemic. We collected some strategies and tips that could help reduce uncertainty & anxiety in the members of your lab while also maintaining your mental wellbeing as a PI.

Full links:

Open Letter dated 25 February 2021

Open Letter to the presidents of the Berlin University Alliance universities regarding

  • pressures during the doctoral phase
  • lack of training resources
  • insufficient supervision

Download or read here (internal link)

TU Berlin

TU offers the proMotion training programm / support for doctoral candidates:

Dahlem Research School (FU)

Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

Quest Center:

Confidential and free Pregnancy Conflict consultation (Schwangerschaftskonfliktberatung)

This page last updated on: 30 October 2023