Promoting Mental Health Awareness and Well-Being
Academic research offers many rewards by allowing us to be challenged and to make an impact in science as well as on society. However, there are numerous challenges facing postdoctoral and senior researchers beyond their immediate research work. Most postdoctoral and senior researchers are still employed via temporary contracts and competition for more senior level, permanent jobs is increasing. Such career uncertainty can add to the research-inherent pressures experienced by these highly skilled and motivated individuals. This group of experienced scientists are also often at the stage in their lives where heavy work commitments compete with the demands of family life and achieving a healthy work-life balance can be difficult.
FIMMPOD recognises that well-being is key to achieving a successful and fulfilling career and aims to address these issues through mentoring, community discussions and supporting courses and events. Firstly, FIMMPOD career development courses are offered with the aim to broaden skills sets of researchers, instil a sense of confidence in abilities and hence create an increased awareness of available career opportunities.
FIMMPOD members at the FIMM Annual Retreat in 2016.
FIMMPOD also aims to foster a peer-to-peer support network within FIMM. We organise informal community discussions where postdoctoral and senior researchers can meet and discuss topical issues such as achieving a healthy work-life balance, how uncertainty affects our working lives, the career progression of senior researchers and the benefits of finding a professional mentor. We also have other opportunities to socialise and enjoy the company of colleagues, such as the annual ice cream event and winter holiday lunch, and fun courses, such as the self-defence course. Events linked to finding strategies to directly enhance well-being have included a Mindfulness course.
A six-week Mindfulness course given by Saara Repo in the Autumn of 2015.
FIMMPOD will increasingly promote mental health awareness and well-being and will do so within wider efforts at FIMM. For example, FIMM recently held a series of mental health awareness presentations and activities in the FIMM Scientific Coffee Breaks programme covering topics such as imposter syndrome, case studies in awareness in colleagues and working environments, resources for supporting mental health and well-being, and, most recently, managing stress. Events have also included the Student and Postdoc Council 1st FIMM International Ravintolapäivä, where all at FIMM were encouraged to get together and share home-made dishes from around the world.
We welcome any ideas on how to develop this newest component of the FIMMPOD professional development programme.