Wellbeing at FIMM

During times of economic uncertainty and host organisation structural change, a vibrant work atmosphere, positive attitude and strong support within a local community are very important. Here at FIMM we understand the importance of wellbeing and work to foster it through approaches such as peer mentoring to help our staff to cope with work-related stress, some of which is inherent in the global scientific research enterprise and some of which is magnified at times of uncertainty. Some examples of these activities are listed below.

Mental Health Awareness @FIMM

Academic research allows us to be challenged and to make an impact on the scientific knowledge base as well as on society. While the enterprise brings these great rewards, it also carries heavy responsibilities. Thus, it is natural that researchers face both successes and failures and must learn to cope with these fluctuations. Being aware of one’s own mental health and strategies to boost resilience is important in a community of researchers striving for excellence and impact in science. In 2015, we started regular sessions during which we aim to increase awareness of mental health to all employees, especially PhD students. During the year, three sessions were organised by Group Leader William Hennah and Senior Researcher Gretchen Repasky.

These sessions provided an introduction to mental health awareness – “Is Poor Mental Health an Occupational Hazard in Science,” and aimed to provide resources to recognize problems in themselves and co-workers and to find help. Follow-up sessions aimed to prompt discussions on taking responsibility and initiative – “Regarding my own mental health awareness and mental health, I will…”. Importantly, the aim is to move away from any stigma that people may feel in asking for help. Future sessions will focus on specific aspects that FIMM researchers may encounter in their professional lives, such as imposter syndrome and screen-time.

How to Keep Calm - Annual Scientific Retreat and Mindfulness Course

During our Annual Scientific Retreat in June, two external speakers were invited to give presentations related to wellbeing. On the first day of the retreat, mindfulness coach Saara Repo introduced the basic principles of mindfulness to the whole staff. The retreat ended with a fascinating presentation of a NPL-trainer Ilkka Koppelomäki who talked about “How your mind works and how to use it to reduce stress”. During the autumn, as part of the FIMMPOD activities, a more comprehensive mindfulness course taught by Saara Repo was organised at FIMM.

Mindfulness coach Saara Repo and participants of the FIMMPOD mindfulness course

Group Leader Peer Mentoring

Research training at FIMM reaches many levels from undergraduate trainees to doctoral students and postdoctoral and senior researchers. Group leaders, who must navigate the sometimes rough waters of the scientific environment and group management roles, are not neglected in the scheme. With support from the institute and gathering approximately twice per season, FIMM’s group leaders have the opportunity to share common concerns and learn from one another in active sessions of group peer mentoring. FIMM-EMBL Group Leader Emmy Verschuren and Senior Researcher Gretchen Repasky design, organise and facilitate the sessions.

Doctoral Student Peer mentoring: Learning together about soft skills

Three dedicated doctoral students have designed and brought to life creative peer mentoring sessions on various soft skills. In 2015, topics such as motivation, time and project management, and saying no and asking for help were discussed. Read more.

Wellbeing at FIMM