Broadcast: Events

Festival of doctoral research: From Reactive to Proactive: Re-imagining mental health for doctoral researchers

Tuesday 26 June 10:30 until 12:00
The Gardner Tower, ACCA
Speaker: Various
Part of the series: Festival of Doctoral Research

It is not unusual to feel overwhelmed by your doctorate, and many of us know researchers who have experienced periods of self-doubt, anxiety and depression. Our doctoral community is formed of diversely talented and experienced researchers, many of whom enjoy and gain satisfaction from their PhD, but others are not experiencing the freedom and fulfilment that this level of study can bring. The contributing factors may lie within the supervision relationship, be related to financial concerns, to achieving work-life balance, worries over career progression, or within the culture of universities/academia as a whole. Research has shown that whilst our research culture is an important source of inspiration and empowerment, it can also be a source of stress (Levecque et al 2017).

During these opening talks we’ll hear from a range of speakers who are focussed on moving the wellbeing and mental health agenda for doctoral researchers from reactive to pro-active, and working on initiatives to support our doctoral communities to thrive and succeed.

We’ll hear about what’s happening at a national level in our understanding and approach to mental health; about new initiatives at Sussex to support the well-being and mental health of our doctoral researchers; and how we can keep well and work in partnership to learn from and support one another.

The mental health of students is a key priority for the University, with the Vice-Chancellor’s recent review of student mental health highlighting a need for a focus on doctoral mental health. The University has been successful in securing funding from the Office for Students for a project just launched at Sussex ‘Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers’. Doctoral researchers are also part of the steering group.

Join us to hear from our below speakers and be a part of this important discussion - all students and staff across the University are very welcome to attend.


  • Dr Fiona Denney - Director of Brunel Educational Excellence Centre and Vice-Chair of the UKCGE Mental Health and Well-being Working Group
  • Dr Jeremy Niven - Director of Doctoral Studies (Life Sciences) and Project Lead for ‘Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers’
  • Joshua Hutton - Doctoral Researcher, Science and Technology Studies
  • Paul Roberts – Assistant Director of the Doctoral School

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By: Laura Chapman
Last updated: Thursday, 24 May 2018