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NIH Seminar Series: The Mental Health and Well-being of Biomedical Researchers

 
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Explore the critical issue of mental health in the biomedical research community.


Why?
 Biomedical trainees (1) and researchers (2) report anxiety and depression at rates far greater than the general population.

Goal: Increase awareness and provide coping strategies and tools to help participants support their own mental health and that of others

For whom? Trainees at all levels, PIs and other researchers, administrators, and faculty both at the NIH and in the extramural community

How? Address in depth mental health issues that affect biomedical researchers each month through

  • An opening webinar
  • Q&A and small-group discussions facilitated by experienced mental health practitioners
  • In-depth strategy development and skills practice, e.g., perfection management, executive functioning, mindfulness

NOTE: Information on the discussion and skills-based groups will be provided to those who attend the monthly webinars in follow-up emails.


Tentative Schedule


All Webinars will run from 3:00 to 4:00pm (ET) followed by discussion groups 4:05-4:50.

Information for supplemental sessions will be provided after each webinar.

TopicWebinar DateRegistration LinkSupplemental Sessions
Culture Change and Wellness November 7, 2022
3:00 to 4:50pm  (ET)
Registration now closed. YouTube Video: RECAP
Community Wellness: November 17, 2022, 12pm ET
Trauma and its Workplace Impacts December 12, 2022 
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)

Registration now closed. YouTube Video: RECAP

N/A

Self-Awareness Strategies for Positive Mental Health  January 9, 2023
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)

Registration now closed. You Tube Video: RECAP

Fostering Healthy Habits: January 19, 2023, 12pm ET
Perfectionism February 6, 2023
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
Fostering a Growth Mindset: February 16, 2023, 12pm ET
Addressing Avoidant Numbing Behaviors: Breaking Unhelpful Habits  March 6, 2023
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
The Coping Crisis: March 16, 2023, 12pm ET
Suicide Awareness and Response April 10, 2023
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
Register  N/A
Mental Health Series Wrap Up May 1, 2023
3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
 N/A

Sign language interpreting services and live captioning will be provided for this event. Individuals who need other reasonable accommodations to participate in this event or would like a sign language interpreter for the small group should contact Jenn Wiggins (Jennifer.wiggins@nih.gov) or the Telecommunications Relay Service @ 711. TRS enables standard voice telephone users to talk to people who have difficulty hearing or speaking on the telephone. Requests should be made as soon as possible.  

For More Information

The Raising a Resilient Scientist training program is made possible through the generous support from the:

Series Description

Culture change and Wellness

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usBX2mxtQVo
Research and healthcare careers involve intense periods of training and work that can lead to extreme fatigue and burn-out. In addition, we often focus on the problem at hand, rather than considering the people engaged in the enterprise, driving cultures that tolerates unhelpful conflict and incivility.  In this webinar, we will discuss well-being and mental health of our community knowing that the culture we are in, complicates the discussion. As part of a drive for culture change, we will discuss barriers to well-being and highlight strategies for promoting culture change in research groups, offices, departments, and programs with a focus on leadership at all levels. This webinar is open to all NIHers and folks outside the NIH, including students, fellows, staff and faculty. We hope you will join us! The talk will be recorded and will be accessible within 24-48 hours.

Trauma and its Workplace Impacts

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmUAFdNUg6w 
Trauma and distress can arise due to a number of events, including bias, bullying, economic uncertainty, chronic pressure, toxic work environments, and more. Estimates are that 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women experience at least one trauma in their lives.  In the workplace, trauma manifests itself as absenteeism, poor presenteeism, task avoidance, conflicts, accidents or loss of motivation. This webinar will take a deep dive into trauma and how it impacts the workplace. Additionally, how to develop individual supports and foster leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

Self-Awareness Strategies for Positive Mental Health  

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G_-PfEMbmI
Building insight is a foundational tool for strengthening mental health and making positive changes.  The better we understand ourselves, the more able we are to make choices that align with our goals, both personal and professional.  However, realistic, kind self-reflection can be difficult, especially when dealing with mental health needs.  Due to this, when challenges arise, we tend to be overly harsh with ourselves and others, or if too painful, we avoid self-reflection altogether.  This webinar will explore concepts to more realistically view our strengths and challenges and improve the way we speak to and motivate ourselves with the aim of building positive mental health and moving toward our goals.

Perfectionism

Webinar Date: February 6, 2023 - 3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
Registration Link: Register
Perfectionism is linked to poorer mental health outcomes, including increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. And yet, it continues to be an ever-present part of people’s identity, especially those working within the high stress environment of biomedical research. In this webinar we will define perfectionism and better understand the toll it takes on our lives, explore the contributing factors that perpetuate it, and identify strategies to cultivate a healthy striving mindset, an alternative to the impossibility of perfectionism that is eroding our mental health and our resilience. Immediately following the 1-hour webinar will be a 45-minute small group discussion led by a trained facilitator. There will also be an hour-long supplemental session on February 16th focused on growth mindset, a set of skills necessary to work toward interrupting unhelpful patterned responses of perfectionism.

Addressing Avoidant and Numbing Behaviors: Breaking Unhelpful Habits

Webinar Date: March 6, 2023 - 3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
Registration Link: Register
This webinar will explore avoidant and numbing behaviors, what they are, why we engage in them, why they are not helpful to us in the long run, and how they are different from relaxation. We will discuss ways to manage the uncomfortable feelings that may drive us to these behaviors, including identifying feelings and learning to tolerate uncomfortable emotions. Strategies will be given for unlearning numbing habits and replacing them with more helpful, healthy, and restorative behaviors. The webinar will be followed by facilitated small groups to give you the opportunity to discuss the topic with other participants.

Suicide Awareness and Response

Webinar Date: April 10, 2023 - 3:00 to 4:50pm (ET)
Registration Link: Register
Learn about the scope of the suicide crisis in our nation and around the world, particularly as it relates to researchers and clinicians within the biomedical research community.  Identify risk factors associated with suicidal ideation and completion on a continuum of low risk to high risk.  Develop skills to assist in communicating with someone who may be experiencing suicidal ideation, with the goal of making connections with and getting additional help for the individual. We will hear an hour-long presentation and then move into small groups.  The small groups will allow us to go deeper in depth and gain practical experience regarding how to communicate with and assist an individual experiencing suicidal ideation.  Learn specific courses of action and dialogue to increase knowledge and comfort surrounding the topic of suicide. 

Footnotes:
1. A series of 2018 articles in Nature (see, e.g., https://www.nature.com/articles/nbt.4089) convincingly demonstrated an incidence of depression and anxiety in the graduate school population (~40%), more than 6 times the rate observed in the general population. Rates are even higher in marginalized graduate student populations.
2. A 2020 study, What Researchers Think about the Culture (https://wellcome.ac.uk/sites/default/files/what-researchers-think-about-the-culture-they-work-in.pdf) commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, reports similar lack of well-being among researchers, predominantly in the sciences, at all career levels.