Professor Levecque looks back on her 2017 landmark study in Science


In 2017, Professor Levecque published the article ‘Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students’. The study shed new light on well-being and mental health in academia, indicating that one in two PhD students experienced psychological distress and one in three is at risk for common psychiatric disorders. Moreover, the prevalence of mental health problems among PhD students is more than twice as high as in the highly educated general population, highly educated employees, and higher education students. Both work and organizational context such as work-family interface constituted significant predictors of PhD students’ mental health.

As soon as the article got published back in 2017, it sparked conversations on Twitter, becoming the second-most-discussed article on social media in 2017 according to Altmetric and thus fulfilling the authors’ hope that the study would help break the silence around mental health issues in academia. To this day, the article continues to have societal impact and still holds the 222nd position of more than 17 million research outputs on Altmetric.

In a Q&A with Science, Professor Levecque explores what has changed four years after the publication of the article. She discusses policy changes in the field, her job responsibilities and how she personally experienced the response to the viral article.

"Improving mental health in academia has become more of a mission than a job for me." - Katia Levecque