In many respects academics have it pretty good: they work on topics about which they’re passionate, have a lot of flexibility and freedom, interact with smart and interesting people every day, and are paid well by most people’s standards. Nevertheless, there are downsides, notably constant grant-writing to compete for scarce research funds, and the extraordinary amount of (over)work required to plant and maintain a footing on the fellowship ladder.
Some people thrive on the pressures of academia, but many wilt. In the UK, mental health problems are on the rise among university academics. According to Claire Shaw and Lucy Ward’s story in theguardian.com (6 March 2014) research indicates nearly half of UK academics have symptoms of psychological distress.