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EUA-CDE explores mental health and wellbeing in doctoral education

Throughout the month of December, and as the holidays draw near, The EUA-CDE Doctoral Debate will address the mental health and wellbeing of Europe’s doctoral candidates. We are pleased to present an in-depth examination of this very important topic as it emerges in our community as a challenge many higher education institutions face.

While questions of mental health and wellbeing are present in society in general, universities have a unique responsibility to protect students, doctoral candidates and staff from the causes of mental health issues and promote their wellbeing. Doctoral candidates, in particular, are at risk as they are under great pressure to succeed, may be enrolled in a programme in a country that is not their own, and may not know where to find help as many resources are addressed to “students”, and not doctoral candidates.

In addition, there is a lack of solid information on the topic and terminology surrounding the issue may be unclear and require a conceptional revamping. This contributes to slow progress in the debate. That is why EUA-CDE has gathered some of the best experts from our community across Europe to talk about mental health and wellbeing in The Doctoral Debate. The authors of our articles have provided explanations, shared perspectives and experiences, as well as recommendations.

Katia Leveque and Anneleen Mortier from Ghent University clear up the conceptional confusion by addressing the difference between mental health and wellbeing, explaining why this distinction is so very important. Barbara Dooley, CDE Steering Committee member, shares perspectives from the institutions regarding the overall relevance of the topic and suggests how to tackle it. Janet Metcalfe and Sarah Nalden from Vitae talk about what is being done in the UK and what other institutions across Europe can learn from this experience. And Mathias Schroijen from Eurodoc shares a view from the side of doctoral candidates and describes the issue from different national contexts in Europe.

At EUA-CDE we feel that it is important to openly discuss this issue and we will be happy to receive feedback on these articles from the CDE community. We are looking forward to your perspectives and experiences and we hope you enjoy and learn from this month of reading on mental health and wellbeing on The Doctoral Debate.

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All views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of EUA Council for Doctoral Education. If you would like to respond to this article by writing your own piece, please see The Doctoral Debate style guidelines and contact the CDE team to pitch your idea.

About the author

Alexander Hasgall is Head of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education. Before assuming this position, he coordinated the “Performances de la recherche en sciences humaines et sociales” programme of the Swiss University Rectors’ Conference and was based at the University of Geneva. Alexander received his Doctorate in History at the University of Zurich on the history and discourse of transitional justice in Argentina.

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