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‘The dreaded and dreadful Robert Lake’: Navigating elitism and the ‘race to nowhere’ in academia
In the fall of 2021, a survey was conducted by scholars representing the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, with results published in the journal Academic Matters. Some of us in this room may have read the article, which was about the state of mental health among higher education faculty. The authors argued that while the pandemic exacerbated mental health issues among faculty, problems had been brewing for some time. Over 20 years ago, Gail Kinman’s findings, published in The International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, revealed that faculty members in the UK, US and Australia consistently reported high levels of stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. These results have been corroborated by more recent studies, such as one from Australia in 2003, which found that academic staff struggled with mental illness at 3-4 times the general population rate. In 2010, results from a survey spanning several Canadian institutions reported that 24% (roughly 1 in 4 professors) had a substantial level of psychological distress. A European survey published in 2017 by RAND stated that number as high as 37%; that is, a little over 1 in 3 lecturers or professors indicated a mental disorder. A British study, also from 2017, put that number at 43%; more than 2 out of every 5 academics experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety or burnout. One of the most recent surveys, from 2021, reported that 64% (almost 2/3rds of academics) are experiencing mental health issues.
Universities and colleges--Faculty--Mental healthUniversities and colleges--Faculty--Job stressCollege teachers--Mental healthCollege teachers--Job stressElite (Social sciences)--Psychological aspectsBurn out (Psychology)AnxietyDepression, Mental
Not peer reviewed