This blog is run by the Think Ahead team, at the University of Sheffield. We work with postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, supporting them to develop careers inside or outside of academia. We’re very privileged to be able to work with researchers as they progress through their PhD, start a new research contract or take the next step in their career. We see their successes and their achievements – and it’s brilliant!
Inevitably, though, we also see the other side: researchers who are struggling or stressed-out. Because – spoiler alert – academia is hard! It’s enough of a challenge when everything’s plain-sailing in the rest of your life but, when a perfect storm of work and other life stresses come at once, it can feel overwhelming.
I’ve talked before on this blog about ways you can try to manage when the going gets really tough but, as a team, we wanted to find ways to enable researchers to take more control of their wellbeing, as well as to help academic and professional services colleagues to better understand and support researchers in their departments.
Out of this came Researcher Wellbeing Week; a programme of discussions, workshops and spaces for people to get together and chat, covering everything from managing conflict and supporting a researcher who’s struggling, to taking a break with knitting or mindfulness!
I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who got involved with this week. To colleagues within the university and beyond, who gave their expertise and time to the programme and to everybody who attended events during the week, and helped to make the week such a success. Most importantly, though, I want to thank the researchers and academics who shared their experiences so openly and thoughtfully. Talking about mental health and wellbeing issues can be very difficult – a quick a look at the academia and mental health section on Dr. Nadine Muller’s blog throws up lots of stories echoing some of the issues raised during our Researcher Wellbeing Week.
One week was never intended to “solve” wellbeing issues for researchers (I mean, we’re good, but…); it was simply a starting point to get people throughout the university thinking and talking about wellbeing, and how we can all play our part in supporting our community. Over the coming months, we’ll be using the conversations that took place over Researcher Wellbeing Week to develop further online resources and to organise more events.