Mental Health in Academia: Shedding light on those who provide support

  1. Elsa Loissel  Is a corresponding author
  1. eLife, United Kingdom
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Alluvial diagram of the career stages of the individuals that PhD students, postdocs, early-, mid- and late-career group leaders support.

The experiences of supporters (left) at five career stages were considered: PhD students (green), postdocs (red), early-career group leaders (less than five year since independence; purple), mid-career group leaders (between five and ten years since independence; light blue) and late-career group leaders (more than ten years since independence; dark blue). The career stage of the person they last supported (including individuals at other career stages; grey) is reported on the right. The majority of PhD students and a large proportion of postdocs support someone who is at the same career stage. However, those with official leadership roles mostly provide help to PhD students and, to a lesser extent, to postdocs. Only a minority of group leaders provided support to another group leader, despite 47.4% of early-career group leaders, 37.8% of mid-career group leaders and 23.9% of late-career group leaders reporting they were themselves struggling with their mental health at the time of support.

How supporters feel about helping someone else.

Word cloud generated based on answers to the question "Please list up to five words to describe your [supporting] experience".

Impact of the supporting experience on the supporters’ work, by career stages.

Compared to other career stages, group leaders with less than five years of experience are significantly more likely to report their work being impacted by their supporting relationship. Only supporters who were PhD students, postdocs or group leaders at the time of support are considered for this graph.

Many of those providing support were struggling with their own mental health.

60.1% of respondents answered "Yes" to the statement: "As I was providing support, I was struggling with my own mental health".

Support from institutions.

The majority of supporters somewhat or strongly disagreed with having felt supported/valued by their institution (e.g.managers, department) for the help they were providing.

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  1. Elsa Loissel
Mental Health in Academia: Shedding light on those who provide support
eLife 9:e64739.