Conference on “Mental Health in PhD Students” on 19 October 2021
Scholar Minds (www.scholar-minds.net) 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: https://psyarxiv.com/nv4ut/.
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: www.scholar-minds.net
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!
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.
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
TU offers the proMotion training programm / support for doctoral candidates: