Some classic examples of scientists who experienced mental health problems include naturalist Charles Darwin, who was compulsive and prone to illness. Alfred Wallace, his genius co-discoverer, was a reclusive nomad as well. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla is also said to have experienced mood swings regularly.
The mental pressure of being a scientist
Although scientific research may not rank among the top 10 most stressful jobs according to Health magazine, most scientists report high-stress levels. The pressure is exceptionally high at the beginning of their careers when a flawed proposal or unsatisfactory research can preemptively end an apprenticeship.Work-related stress can harm overall mental and physical health. But its effects frequently take time to manifest, negatively affecting physical health before realizing it. Sometimes it takes a serious health scare or accident to make one aware of the stakes. Delaying action until a crisis arises is not a wise course of action.
Relation between work deliverables and the mental pressure on scientists
The stigma of mental illness continues to have a strong hold on people’s minds. It serves as a deterrent to people who might want to seek mental health treatment. The aspects, hypothesis, and ontology of stigma against mental illness have several implications for science.
People frequently misunderstand the connection between their symptoms and job stress, and medical professionals occasionally miss the warning signs.
The idea that stress-related symptoms or diseases are all in the individual’s head and do not require serious take is widespread.
Researchers need support to balance their professional aspirations. They may require help submitting their final thesis on their PhD or dispensing their public duties. Almost nothing has been said about the impact on scientists’ mental health before and throughout the pandemic phase. A 2020 study in the UK found that half of the scientists have experienced depression or anxiety at some point in their careers.
How the weight of discoveries affects the mental health of scientists
Scientists strongly desire to discover new things, so their path to discovery is never linear. Fundamental discovery science gives researchers the intellectual latitude to exercise their imaginations and develop theories or hypotheses that spark their curiosity but don’t have an immediate or obvious conclusion. Consider here the groundbreaking neuroscience technique of studying the brain using fluorescent proteins. However, only some things are what it seems. Although the phrase ‘publish or perish’ was first used in a comic book in 1932, it is now a brutal truth for the scientific community due to the growing competition for grants and funding. Scientific researchers are now under pressure to publish widely and in high-impact journals to earn a name in their fields.This pressure causes a variety of problems for the scientific community as a whole. These may include a rise in the tendency to reject novel research, exaggerate the importance of findings, and, in more extreme cases, engage in research fraud. This also significantly impacts a scientist’s stress levels in the academic setting.
How to cope with mental stress as a scientist
Many scientists have personalities driven by goals or ambitions. They are under pressure to ‘sink or swim’ in environments where competition is fierce. Because of the intense competition, coworkers and managers may oppose one another rather than help them. Some mentors may be more focused on their success than the success of their proteges. There may be backstabbing to gain or defend control of limited resources and a need for more support.The problem-solving process is empowering, and thinking one is helpless will only increase stress.
Some of the stress-coping techniques of Scientists are:
Finding the source of stress and finding solutions is the first step to feeling better. Reach out to neighbours, friends, coworkers, and family. It enables us to support one another while also sharing our emotions.
Take a class, volunteer at a local hospital or school, or have lunch with a coworker.
We should recognize our feelings, and when our thoughts dominate the present moment, remember that these are merely mental occurrences that do not have to control us.
We should be mindful as we go about daily activities and enjoy each moment.
There is also a need to address the causative factors of mental health crises. For instance, the pressure to overwork and produce reduces if adverse effects can be published and acknowledged. Some publishers have already started a journal for adverse impacts to support this trend.Additionally, grant critics should stop focusing too much on laboratory publications. Although the idea is still hotly contested, there have even been calls to base funding distribution on a lottery to lessen overwhelming publication pressure.
The unpalatable truth is that Covid-19 has brought attention to scientists’ mental health issues during their careers. The virus has altered and will continue to impact how scientists conduct their daily activities. It is vital to start paying more attention to the mental health of laboratory warriors as the world continues its fight against a familiar foe. Researchers worldwide should take comfort in being on the cutting edge of discovery and a better future for humanity.