C2 - Improving Researcher Wellbeing - What changes can be made and how can we implement them?

Day Day 2
Code C2
Start time 11:10
Developing research staff
Developing doctoral researchers
Developing supervisors and principal investigators
In a policy/strategic/leadership role

Professor Susan Brooks, Director of Researcher Development, University of Oxford

Jennie Cripps, Researcher Development Co-ordinator, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Richy Hetherington, Lecturer Researcher Development, Newcastle University

Dr Gail de-Blacquiere, Lecturer, Newcastle University

Carol Summerside, Learning Enhancement and Technology Adviser, Newcastle University

Workshop overview: 

A key theme from the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference 2018 was the growing awareness of wellbeing issues faced by research students and research staff. It has become incumbent for individual institutions and the sector as a whole to have a mental health and wellbeing strategy for researchers. We all know that wellbeing is important, but what are we doing to support it, what works and what more could we be doing? Oxford Brookes University offers a range of mental health and wellbeing services, training, support and resources for research staff; through the #PGRwellbeing4all programme, Newcastle University is aiming to support all research students with consideration of the varied requirements diversity brings. In this workshop, we consider the range of support offered in our institutions and across the sector. We aim to identify current good practice in this area but also use a real-time survey tool to consider what broader changes could be attempted to make lasting and significant changes to the academic research culture. We hope to gather a broad perspective on what are desirable and tractable changes. We will consider the skills Researcher Developers need to facilitate mental health awareness amongst line managers, supervisors and researchers themselves and how we can best promote support for wellbeing and positively change the culture and environment of research.

Themes covered: 

  • Strategic opportunities and challenges for organisations in creating and sustaining environments where researchers can flourish

Workshop aims: 

  • To introduce Oxford Brookes University’s wellbeing offering for research staff and the #PGRwellbeing4all programme at Newcastle University.
  • To share ideas across institutions on how to best promote awareness of, and support for, mental health and wellbeing in researchers.
  • To identify common gaps in order to address them at institutional level and beyond.
  • Encourage reflection of what would be the most desirable and tractable changes to the research culture and environment.
  • To identify innovative approaches that are effective in supporting the personal development of researchers as protective measures for their wellbeing
  • Derive positive messages for researchers regarding support and change

Value for delegates:

  • Evaluate how mental health and wellbeing support is embedded in training and development programmes for researchers and how institutions can effectively respond to diverse needs.
  • Consider, in light of the individual locus of control for researchers and researcher developers, a broader perspective on what changes can be realistically called for.
  • Benefit from sharing of good practice and innovative approaches in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of researchers.
  • Reflect on their capacity to provide support, and identify any gaps that need to be addressed.
  • Send a message to the sector on what changes to the research culture and environment are truly desirable and tractable.