Today, October 24th 2018, the petition for psychological support for UU PhDs was handed in to the rector of Utrecht University. In the meeting, the organizers of the petition discussed with the rector the importance of PhD mental health and what will be the next steps to address this issue at UU.
The rector said he was concerned with PhD wellbeing and mental health, and agreed to discuss with us concrete scenarios for offering mental health support in November, and to have a final decision in December/January. The rector also said that the help should be provided by trained psychologists.
The petition ran from June to October 2018, and gathered 1021 signatures across all faculties of the University, from PhD candidates (695), all levels of academic staff (e.g. 21 Professors, 108 Assistant or Associate Professors), support staff (33), and alumni (29 former PhDs) (see below).
We are glad with the support of so many people for a topic that is still very much taboo, and we were especially touched and encouraged by the many comments people left on the petition, sharing their personal experience, and adding other good arguments for the university to care more about its employees.
Finally, we are pleased with the commitment shown by the Rector of the University and we look forward to discuss concrete solutions for implementing psychological support for PhDs at UU as soon as possible