Evaluating mental health and wellbeing of postgraduate researchers: prevalence and contributing factors

Milicev, J. , McCann, M. , Simpson, S. A. , Biello, S. M. and Gardani, M. (2021) Evaluating mental health and wellbeing of postgraduate researchers: prevalence and contributing factors. Current Psychology, (doi: 10.1007/s12144-021-02309-y) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

High rates of mental ill-health in postgraduate researchers (PGRs) represent a significant barrier to life satisfaction and academic success. Nevertheless, there is little knowledge about the extent and origins of mental health problems of PGRs in the UK. The current study addresses this gap by investigating the prevalence and provenance of anxiety, depression, sleep problems, subjective mental wellbeing, and suicide behaviours of PGRs in the UK. An online survey (N = 479) was used to measure the mental health outcomes and assess their relationships with demographic, trait and academic variables, policy, and social support. We found a high prevalence of mental ill-health and low levels of wellbeing in the current sample. Factors associated with poorer outcomes were female and non-binary gender, non-heterosexual identity, maladaptive perfectionism, workaholism and being in the 5th year of study or above. Resilience, adaptive perfectionism, higher levels of social support and positive evaluations of progress and preparation, departmental climate, and supervisory relationship were associated with more positive outcomes. The current findings contribute new knowledge about the prevalence of mental health symptoms in PGRs in the UK, implying that institutional efforts to improve PGR wellbeing should include strategies to promote equality, diversity, resilience, integration, social support, and work-life balance of PGRs.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The current study is the first of a larger mixed methods research portfolio exploring PGR wellbeing funded by the University of Glasgow Research and Innovation Services to the senior author (MG). JM is supported by an MRC PhD studentship (MC_ST_00022). SAS and MMcC are supported by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates at the MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (MC_UU_00022/1, SPHSU16; MC_UU_00022/3, SPHSU18).
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Biello, Professor Stephany and Gardani, Dr Maria and McCann, Dr Mark and Simpson, Professor Sharon and Milicev, Jelena
Authors: Milicev, J., McCann, M., Simpson, S. A., Biello, S. M., and Gardani, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Current Psychology
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1046-1310
ISSN (Online):1936-4733
Published Online:22 December 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Current Psychology 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Related URLs:
Data DOI:10.5255/UKDA-SN-855193

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
Complexity in healthMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/1HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSO)SPHSU16
Relationships and healthMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSO)SPHSU18
Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSO)SPHSU11
Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSO)SPHSU14
Medical Research Council (MRC)MC_ST_00022