One thing I've been really curious about recently is why there is a very high tendency for academics to suffer from mental health problems (e.g. anxiety and depression). There are a bunch of factors behind this:
- Very long hours
- Relatively low pay
- Constant pressure to chase up funding and publish papers
- Continuous flow of work resulting in feeling little personal reward
- Dealing with abrasive personalities (such as some specific professors, supervisors and so forth)
- Perfectionism, resulting in feeling that nothing is truly good enough
- Lack of open-mindedness towards admitting difficulties or not understanding something
- A feel that "if you can't take the heat, then you shouldn't be here"
- Lack of external support at some institutions.
This is a very striking read, which highlights that many mental health issues in academia are accepted as the norm or simply ignored, whereas in any other job these would be picked up on and support would be offered.
Also, as someone who as experienced similar difficulties previously in my studies (such as in school and during my undergraduate degree) and had plenty of external support offered to me, it almost seems as though everything I learnt about having a healthy life balance and looking after myself is something that goes out of the window at research level.
I'm sure maybe there are some more that I haven't mentioned, but what would you say is probably biggest influence on people feeling depressed (and some even having dark thoughts) in university departments?