Postgraduate researchers: mental health and wellbeing report

Independent report

RE-IR-2018-01

May 2018

This report presents the findings of a research project undertaken by Vitae (which supports the professional development of researchers) to improve our understanding of the wellbeing and mental health of postgraduate researchers (PGRs) and associated institutional support in the UK.

There has been increased interest in the wellbeing and mental health of undergraduate students in higher education and significant increases in demand for mental health services. There is less understanding, however, on the incidence of mental health issues amongst PGRs and how these needs are met.

Vitae explored the policies and provision relating to the wellbeing and mental health of PGRs at ten higher education institutions (HEIs) through interviews with key staff and PGR focus groups. This included identifying the risk factors among PGRs in terms of their wellbeing and mental health, and the challenges institutions face and the effectiveness of provision. PGR experiences of wellbeing and mental health issues and their experiences of institutional support and services were explored in focus groups. A pilot survey was run at six HEIs to establish a method to measure the extent of mental health problems experienced by PGRs.

The report recommends a range of interventions for Research England (as a Council within UK Research and Innovation), and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to ensure a healthy and supportive research environment for all postgraduate researchers.