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.
“The Doctoral Debate” is an online platform featuring original articles with commentary and analysis on doctoral education in Europe. Articles focus on trending topics in doctoral education and state-of-the-art policies and practices. The Debate showcases voices and views from EUA-CDE members and partners.
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.
Universities need to follow a solution-based approach to adequately address mental health and wellbeing among doctoral candidates. This includes providing appropriate support structures and developing an understanding of the diverse reasons that lead to such challenges for doctoral candidates. EUA-CDE Steering Committee member Barbara Dooley shares her perspective regarding the overall relevance of the topic and how to tackle it.Read more
In current debates, the terms “mental health” and “wellbeing” are often used interchangeably and are not clearly defined. Katia Levecque and Anneleen Mortier from Ghent University discuss why universities would benefit from a thorough reflection on how wellbeing and mental health are explicitly and implicitly conceptualised.Read more
There is increasing interest in the wellbeing and mental health of researchers. Janet Metcalfe and Sarah Nalden from Vitae discuss how a recent project exploring the experiences of doctoral researchers and institutional support for their wellbeing and mental health reveals challenges and suggestions on how to provide appropriate support.Read more