STRW local: Wellbeing Committee

Wellbeing Committee

Monitoring Mental Health at the Observatory

The Wellbeing Committee has actively addressed mental health concerns associated with academic pressure, communication challenges, peer dynamics, and issues like impostor syndrome. Our commitment is to create a supportive atmosphere, prioritizing mental health to keep the well-being of all Observatory members.

Committee members:
Joshua Butterworth
Richelle van Capelleveen
Joe Callingham
Nienke van der Marel
Yamila Miguel (chair)
Kutay Nazli
Wouter Schrier
Piyush Sharda

Our Initiatives

  • Regular Surveys: We regularly conduct anonymous surveys to gauge the well-being of our staff and students. Since 2020, we've carried out 16 surveys, using the data to refine our support strategies.
  • Buddy System: Offering mutual support, our Buddy System pairs Observatory members for conversations and shared experiences.
  • Slack Workspace: Our Observatory-wide Slack workspace facilitates online interactions. It's a hub for discussions ranging from science to social interactions, open to all Observatory members.
  • Workshops: We've held two workshops on Impostor Syndrome and a specialized Mental Health workshop tailored for young Observatory researchers and are always open for new workshops and talks on these topics.

Resources and Information

Recommendations to preserve your mental health:

  • Take Notice: Be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and body in the moment.
  • Connect: Spend time developing relationships, a social network is essential.
  • Be active: Physical activity helps to release stress.
  • Keep learning: New skills can give you a sense of confidence and achievement.
  • Give to others: Acts of kindness can improve your own mood.

Key Resources for Mental Health:

  • Professional Counseling:
    • For serious concerns, seek professional assistance. In the Netherlands, your GP is the primary contact for such help.
    • If you need assistance finding a GP, reach out to the Service Centre International Staff
    • Observatory employees can consult the company doctor from Leiden University for recovery advice, professional assistance, and guidance on resuming work. Contact:
    • For Students and PhD candidates, Leiden University offers psychological assistance here
  • Leiden University Resources:
  • Additional Resources:
    • Join our Slack channel in the observatory Slack: #wellbeing
    • Dragonfly Mental Health: A global non-profit organization formed by academics for academic.
  • Blogs and podcasts on a full range of topics related to mental health in academia, different cultural experiences and challenges:
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about someone else, talking can help. Chat with 113 at or call them for free on 0800-0113.