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Mental Health in Academia

Scientists are under great pressure to advance their research careers, raise external funding, publish and compete in the highly competitive academic job market. They do not always succeed in giving priority to mental health. The journal Nature has dealt intensively with this topic, in an article from 2021 it says:


"Mental-health problems among junior researchers are […] driven, in part, by the immense pressure on academic scientists. […] The mindset in academia is very often one in which failure is not an option and where non-academic jobs are not an option" (Nature, Vol 595, 01.07.2021). Anxiety disorders, depression and impostor syndrome are particularly common among academics.


It is not always easy to distinguish between individual and structural reasons for mental health problems. For scientists, it can therefore be useful to look at structural factors in the academic working environment that can lead to mental health problems and then find a conscious way to deal with them.


Some academic institutions, such as the Einstein Center for Neurosciences Berlin and its Scholar Minds network, are actively dedicated to the topic and provide very good orientation and advice on concrete help, especially for the target group of postdocs. Dragonfly Mental Health is a non-profit organisation by and for academics that offers workshops and counselling worldwide. A list of links from the journal Nature provides a good basis for discussing the relationship between scientific careers and mental health.   

 Mental Health; Foto:



An early examination of the structural conditions in academia as well as one's own career and life goals can serve to prevent acute situations of overload. In addition to workshops on relevant topics, the PCMO and the graduate centres also offer individual counselling and, if necessary, coaching.


In acute situations, people should not hesitate to visit psychological counselling centres and medical facilities. As a complementary and preventive measure, online programmes and apps can be used to learn active strategies for coping with problems. According to the Einstein Center for Neurosciences, recommended techniques for reducing stress, anxiety and depression are above all mindfulness and meditation. Last but not least, happiness research can contribute to a more conscious life - at Yale University you can take the free online course "The Science of Well-Being" by Laurie R. Santos.


Link and literature collection

  • Collection of links from the journal Nature to articles on the topic of mental health (Collection Science Careers and Mental Health:
  • Scientific institutions and networks
      • ECN Berlin
      • Scholar Minds (very good preparation for the target group of postdocs, information on the topic, specific academic symptoms [impostor, depression, anxiety]; self-help tools, etc.)
      • Dragonfly Mental Health Non-profit organisation by academics for academics


Offers at JLU Giessen


  • Workshops and individual counselling about career planning and work-life balance for postdocs by the PCMO advisors.
  • Courses in internal professional development and continuing education
  • Offers of the Academic Sports Service (ahs)


Telephone counselling (free of charge and anonymous)


0800 1110111 or 0800 1110222


Psychological counselling and treatment in Gießen


UKGM Gießen - Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy,


Vitos Klinik Gießen,, emergency hotline/crisis line: 0641 - 4030


Online programmes and apps


  •     Good overview of self-help apps, especially in the area of medidation and    mindfulness (
  •     Online training of the University of Mainz on stress resilience:
  •     AOK programme:
  •     Online programme Help with Depression:
  •     Online course at Yale University "The Science of Well-Being"




Daniela Elsner: Ausgebalanced. Wie du alles unter einen Hut bekommst, was dir im Leben wichtig ist: mit dem Tailor-your-Life-Prinzip. Offenbach 2021 (Ebook via UB Giessen)