A 2017 report by RAND for the Royal Society and Wellcome Trust found that poor mental health in the research community is a significant issue facing the sector. Higher education staff report worse wellbeing than those in other employment, with only 2% of respondents saying that they don’t experience unacceptable levels of stress in their job.
A study by Nature Biotechnology indicates that rates of depression and anxiety reported by postgraduate students are six times higher than in the general population. Other causes of stress include work demands, change management, and lack of clarity about fit to organisational goals. Lack of security is likely to be another factor with zero hours contracts very common in UK universities, particularly for early career researchers.
“Mental health issues are prevalent in all areas of society but there is significant evidence to show that it is a particular problem in the science community, especially academia,” says Jo Reynolds, our director of science and communities. “Our Chemists’ Community Fund has been supporting members when life becomes challenging for nearly 100 years and through our new partnership with CiC, we will ensure our members have access to accredited and confidential mental health support, whenever they need it.
“The first step in treating mental health issues is to seek professional support and this can be difficult for those suffering. We hope that by making it as simple as possible for members to access quick and professional referrals to counselling, we can make that initial step easier and ensure members of our community are able to get the support they need.”
Alongside counselling support, the Chemists’ Community Fund collaborated with Cruse Bereavement Care earlier this year to offer members access to fast-tracked bereavement counselling. These services are joined by the popular wellbeing workshops, which the fund has been supporting alongside local sections over the past six months.
For more information on the services please contact the Chemists’ Community Fund team using the details on the left of this page.
If you are affected by mental health issues or are concerned for a friend, family-member or colleague, and you need to speak to someone right away, the NHS mental health helpline page has a list of organisations you can call for immediate assistance. The Samaritans operates a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for people who want to talk in confidence. Call them on 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website.