Almost 1 in 3 PhD candidates report levels of distress consistent with a psychiatric disorder (Levesque et al., 2017). This is at a rate considerably higher than in the Australian general population where it is approximately 1 in 5 (ABS, 2007).

With such a large prevalence of comparable need, staff are encouraged to access training and support in how to identify and respond to the emotional support needs of candidates.

Below are some of the most common observations from supervisors and clinicians indicative of potential wellbeing imbalances in candidates:

  • Cancelling, rescheduling or avoiding meetings.
  • Emails being sent in the early hours of the morning (after midnight).
  • Candidates not responding to direct questions regarding their research progress.
  • Disclosures from the candidate regarding personal life stressors.
  • Requests for extended access to a laboratory/office outside of usual business hours.
  • Exchanging bad-tempered or overly emotional communications.
  • Dramatic changes in personal appearance, drops in personal hygiene, and/or increases in negative comments about self, others or the future.

Campus Wellbeing and Support Services has created an iLearn Module CareWISE for university employees, focused on assisting staff with the skills and knowledge in how to respond to wellbeing needs for themselves and others. All employees are able to self-enrol to access the portal content. You can also always contact Campus Wellbeing (Advocacy, Disability, Counselling and Welfare Services, P:(02) 9850 7497, E: to refer a student, or to discuss or debrief about student behaviour.

Posted by Ben Wilkes

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