The Mental Health Crisis among Doctoral Researchers – Findings and Best Practices

Ivona Kafedjiska, Lea Heckmann, Vanessa Pires, Pankhuri Saxena, Jana Lasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A harmonized survey conducted among doctoral researchers at the Max Planck Society, Helmholtz and Leibniz Association, reveals that more than 15% of the doctoral researchers suffer from moderate to severe depressive symptoms, and almost 40% from anxiety. Three factors correlate prominently with mental health outcomes: high workload, unsatisfactory supervision and an unsupportive working environment. To address these challenges, we propose various measures such as truthful time tracking, mandatory supervision trainings and the introduction of
thesis advisory committees. We also advocate for 4-year contracts and free counselling for all doctoral researchers. By adopting these systemic changes, we hope to cause a shift towards less precarious working conditions for early career researchers and transform academia into a place where good research does not come at the expense of the researcher’s mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalZeitschrift für Beratung und Studium
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


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