Long summer holidays, job autonomy, social status and flexible work arrangements are all characteristics that make life as a scholar appear attractive to many people outside the academy. But most observers generally do not see the pressures and strains in universities that are, without question, growing in intensity and damaging employees and, in some instances, their loved ones. Moreover, anxiety, stress, depression and other mental health problems appear to be on the rise amongst career academics and those preparing for such work (Wiegel et al., 2016; Wilcox, 2014; Winefield and Jarrett, 2001). For example: In 2010 I started a PhD … A year on, and the pressure began to build, reaching the point where I had a nervous breakdown. I spent time going to counselling for help, but then decided to take a 10-month break from the research I was doing. Upon returning I was able to work for a few months before falling back into depression because I felt I had no chance of gaining the qualification I desired. I eventually got to the stage where I felt I was going nowhere and cleared my desk late one Saturday, saying nothing to anyone that I was leaving. While suffering from depression, I felt isolated, as everyone around me was able to get on with their PhDs. I felt I was the problem. I feel I received some support for my issues but more could have been done to ease me back into full-time study after returning.
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