What troubles scientists? Read the mental health edition of the university magazine Universitas

Cooperation Science

They love science, yet they are considering leaving. Due to financial uncertainty, pressure to perform, or bullying. Not only these topics are covered in the special edition of the university magazine newsletter Universitas.

Pressure to perform. Workaholism. Burnout. Stress from constant financial uncertainty. Bullying and bossing. Imposter syndrome. The world of science is demanding and specific. What threats do scientists face, how can they be prevented – and is it always even possible? Twelve scientists shared their mental health issues with Universitas magazine. Some of these issues were brought from childhood and adolescence, but a large part of them originated, fully manifested, or accelerated in the work environment. The special issue on mental health in science also offers psychological and other recommendations related to these issues.

"The pressure to perform in science is truly extreme. And the constant comparison, that I have slightly worse results than another team, or that I cost the institute a thousand more than another team," lists Karolína, a scientist who is objectively among the most successful in her field at the European level. She secures the most prestigious grants and has top-tier publications to her name; many would probably describe her as a resilient person. However, even she feels paralyzed and very tired.

"The worst for mental health is the constant pressure under which you work," says Andrea, a PhD student in the natural sciences. "Results are preferred, regardless of the well-being of the person achieving those results. Yet, a scientist who feels well produces excellent results. I see a lot of burnout around me from trying to do everything perfectly without rest."

This is not specific to the Czech scientific environment (and according to some academics with international experience, it's still "easy" in the Czech Republic compared to some countries). Scientists must compete with peers worldwide to be successful, which naturally brings inherent pressure.

Sometimes, it takes just a little to manage the pressure. Openness in communication, setting better working conditions – equipment, materials, facilities – or simply a willingness to address problems. Those lucky enough to have leaders or colleagues capable of offering a helping hand can manage even extreme stress.

You can read the entire newsletter on the mental health of scientists here.




31. 05. 2024