On the occasion of World Mental Health Day 2020,Cactus Communications (CACTUS), a technology company accelerating scientific advancement, released its much-anticipated global survey report on mental health, wellbeing, and fulfilment among researchers. The survey, which was conducted from October 2019 to July 2020 in seven languages, saw a phenomenal response of over 13,000 participants globally, with strong representation from the top 10 research-producing countries, making it the largest and most diverse survey of its kind among researchers. With 13 active and former academics as collaborators, the initiative was supported by various research-associated institutes and organizations such as IndiaBioscience, SciELO, and India Alliance, with Shift Learning as the analytics & reporting partner, Dragonfly Mental Health as an independent consultant, and Vitae and Euraxess as report amplification partners.
Commenting on the report, Abhishek Goel, Co-Founder and CEO, CACTUS, said, “While the world is constantly looking at researchers for answers and solutions, especially during a crisis like the ongoing pandemic, there is very little knowledge available about the life of a researcher. Through our conversations with researchers over the years, we understand that the academic environment is harsh, competitive, and rife with failure and rejection, and that mental health in academia is a serious issue that needs a concerted global focus. Through the Cactus Foundation, which aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we hope to create a better world for researchers, and we believe this survey is an important first step. By highlighting the pressures and the joy and stress triggers for researchers at this global scale, we hope this survey can eventually pave the way for a more nurturing and fulfilling research culture.”
Speaking about the global diversity of the survey population, Clarinda Cerejo, Senior Director, Thought Leadership, CACTUS, said, “While mental health at the workplace has become a global topic of discussion, this topic is still considered taboo in many countries, and academia in particular has traditionally lacked the structure and organization required to address mental health concerns systemically. While we always thought of the survey as immensely important, we are humbled by the kind of global participation we have received from researchers across career stages and even from regions where mental health discussions are not commonplace. This makes us believe that researchers want to speak up and use their voice to drive change, and that research institutions want to pay heed. We hope that this survey marks the beginning of an important global conversation and that all decision makers working with researchers draw on its insights to implement more researcher-friendly work policies”.
Through this survey, CACTUS aims to raise awareness about mental health in academia globally, urging research organizations and universities internationally to openly talk about and address this issue.
The full survey report contains interesting insights about the lives of researchers as well as the overall culture in academia. It offers a global researcher perspective on which aspects of their work bring researchers joy and fulfilment, which ones make them feel stressed and overwhelmed, and the kind of support they would like to receive from universities and research institutions, among other topics.