Special Session SS8  30 June 2021

Welfare and Mental Health in Astronomy Research

News: Anonymous Letter submission will now remain open through the week of the EAS. The Mental Health survey has now closed for submissions.

Aims and scope

Mental health and welfare issues are major challenges faced by many academics. The global situation in 2020 has only compounded these issues. This special session aims to open up the discussion of these issues in academia, and particularly to illuminate how issues of mental health can disproportionately impact certain groups, and how welfare efforts may currently be falling short. To this end, we seek to discuss this topic, taking into account a diverse range of perspectives (acknowledging factors such as race, gender, sexuality, neurodiversity, (dis)abilities, and caring responsibilities, as well as seniority). It will also be a forum to share strategies and evidence-based initiatives to change the status quo.

Contributed Talks and Posters: This special session will be accepting contributed talks and posters. Please submit an abstract through the EAS abstract submission process.

Anonymous Letters: There will also be a digital letters wall where individuals can post anonymous letters about their experiences in academia. This is a safe space for participants to share the impact their experiences in astronomy and academia have had on their mental health and welfare. These letters will be screened to ensure they are not racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, or ableist and that they don't disclose any identifying details.

Anonymous Letter Submission

Welfare and mental health survey: We will also being conducting an anonymous survey before the conference about welfare and mental health experiences in astronomy and astrophysics academia. The results from this survey will be discussed in the special session.

Note: This special session is being organised in collaboration with the lunch session "Healthy Careers in Astronomy (LS3)" It is financially supported by the EAS and by the Department of Space, Earth & Environment at Chalmers University of Technology.


  • Theme (A): Quantifying the Issue of Mental Health
  • Providing current statistics (or raising the issue of the lack thereof) around mental health and welfare in academia.
  • Theme (B): How Specific Factors Impact Mental Health in Academia
  • Looking at the impact of factors including: job insecurity, work/life balance, harassment, toxic environments (racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, genderism, classism), and global issues including the pandemic, the climate crisis, and political instabilities.
  • Theme (C): Steps Forward: How to improve Mental Health in Research
  • Looking at current initiatives that improve welfare and mental wellbeing.

Invited speakers

  • Dr Desiree Dickerson (Professional Neuroscientist and Psychologist)
  • Dr Sarita Robinson (University of Central Lancashire)
  • Dr Sumeyye Suri (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy)
  • Dr Ruchama Steinberg (Dragonfly Mental Health Charity)
  • Prof Andrew Pontzen (University College London)

Scientific organisers

  • Hannah Calcutt (She/Her, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toru?; Co-Chair)
  • Holly Andrews (She/Her, Chalmers University of Technology; Co-Chair)
  • Emma Chapman (She/Her, Imperial College London)
  • Mark Gorski (He/Him, Chalmers University of Technology)
  • Sandra Treviño Morales (She/Her, Chalmers University of Technology)
  • Sara Rezaei Kh. (She/Her, Chalmers University of Technology / MPIA)
  • Franziska Schmidt (She/Her, UCL)
  • Jost Migenda (They/Them, KCL)
  • Dave Clements (He/Him, Imperial College London)
  • Victor See (He/Him, University of Exeter)
  • Harry Johnston (He/Him, Utrecht University)
  • Contact

    hcalcutt @ umk.pl

    Updated on Mon Jun 07 20:39:45 CEST 2021