Academic stressors: What they look like and how to deal with them
“It is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed as a PhD student.”
“You still have time during the weekend to finish your work.”
“The work environment in academia is extremely stressful. Get used to it!”
“If you can’t manage your stress well, then maybe academia is not for you.”
If you've heard one or more of these sentences along your academic journey, you're not alone.
Over the last few years, several articles, blog posts, surveys, and research papers have raised concerns about extremely high stress levels among researchers. According to results from the CACTUS Mental Health Survey, nearly 40% of 13,000 researchers reported feeling frequently overwhelmed by their work situation.
It seems like feeling stressed and overwhelmed is just a regular part of academic life. This has been normalized to the extent that those researchers who struggle to cope or even ask for help are often considered weak. This deters others from speaking up and seeking help, resulting in even more stress, and sometimes poor mental health.
But, academic stress does not occur in a vacuum and is not just the researcher's problem. Several aspects of academic life and inherent systemic issues can contribute to or increase researchers' stress levels. So the responsibility of “coping” should not be only on the researcher. Research institutes and universities can do much more towards setting up resources and support channels to help their researchers better manage stress and improve their overall wellbeing.
To address this issue and suggest relevant improvements, the Researcher.Life Team has invited Dr. Stefano Zucca – Neuroscientist, Postdoctoral researcher at University of Turin – to talk about academic stressors and explain how they can be managed at different levels.
At this session, Dr. Zucca will talk about:
- How stress works and what might cause us stress
- Easily visible and hidden examples of academic stressors
- Why it’s important to manage academic stressors effectively
- How we’re all part of the solution to improve researcher mental health and wellbein
- How academic stress can be managed at three levels – individual, group, and institutional
Date and Time: November 11, 2021 | 2:00 pm UTC | 9:00 am EST
About Dr. Stefano Zucca:
Neuroscientist, Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Turin, mental health advocate
Stefano is a neuroscientist interested in understanding how the brain integrates sensory information from the outside world to guide our instinctive responses. He obtained his PhD in Neuroscience and Brain Technologies in Italy, at the Italian Institute of Technology. He spent three years as a postdoc at University College London (UCL) in the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience (IBN) and he has recently started a second postdoc back home in Italy, at University of Turin.
In the past two years he has been involved in raising awareness and discussion around mental health in academia. In 2019 he became a Mental Health First Aider, and he started a novel scheme (Peer Coaching Group) to support and improve researchers’ mental health through coaching skills. Peer-Coaching is now an established support tool available throughout UCL. Since 2020, he has been involved in international leadership self-development workshops, where he presents how stress affects researchers’ mental health, with a special focus on underrepresented categories in academia.