Promovendi Netwerk Nederland is concerned about the mental health of PhD students and is pushing for a national study into their health issues as soon as possible.

The results of a wide-scale Flemish study among over 3,600 PhD students show that nearly a third of them are at risk of developing depression: two to three times more than other highly qualified people.

Many PhD students have problems separating work from home life, say the Flemish researchers. A high workload and uncertain career prospects are other stress-inducing factors.

Business administration and economics

In the Netherlands, there are similar problems. Last year it appeared that possibly one in three PhD students at the University of Amsterdam suffers from clinical depression. This risk was particularly high in studies like business administration and economics.

Such a small-scale study at one university isn’t enough, says chairman Rolf van Wegberg from Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN): a big nationwide study should be launched, like the one in Flanders. But that isn’t happening “due to a lack of urgency and funding.”

PNN is disappointed that such an important study has not been performed for these reasons. “Because there’s only one group that will pay the price as a result: the PhD students.”