There is a mental-health crisis in science — at all career stages and across the world. Graduate students are being harassed and discriminated against, paid meagre wages, bullied, overworked and sometimes sexually assaulted. It doesn’t get much better for early-career researchers struggling to land long-term employment. And established senior researchers face immense pressure to win grants, publish in high-profile journals and maintain their reputations in highly competitive fields.
Scientists have raised concerns for years about the impacts of all these pressures on mental health. But a series of studies in the past few years are now providing hard data. And the findings show that the situation is dire.
Researchers are much more likely than the general population to experience depression and anxiety. And although the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in mental-health struggles, many argue that it only exacerbated problems that were already present. The recent studies, which have collectively surveyed tens of thousands of researchers worldwide, suggest that scientists’ mental-health struggles are a direct result of a toxic research culture.
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