Background: Mental Health in Academia

Recent evidence on the state of mental health among academics paints an alarming picture. Faculty members and PhD students around the world run a high risk of developing mental health issues, such as psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and burnout, at some point in their career. Many of them seek professional help either through their institution or on their own as the availability of institutional support structures varies greatly across universities.

Overall, studies consistently point to a much higher prevalence of mental health issues among academics compared to most other working populations. COVID-19 has intensified work-related stress for many scholars, but the problem clearly predates the pandemic. The structural conditions of academic work, such as high publication pressure, fierce competition, and a culture of constant evaluation, are known to contribute to unhealthy levels of occupational stress.

The Publish and Perish Project

The Publish and Perish project specifically addresses the situation of mental health and emotional wellbeing among academics in the field of media and communication studies. The overall goal of this endeavor is to gauge the scale of the problem in the discipline, identify structural conditions that produce greater vulnerability among individuals, and point to potential ways of improving the situation.

Initiated and coordinated by Thomas Hanitzsch and Antonia Markiewitz (both from the Department of Media and Communication at LMU Munich) together with Henrik Bødker (Department of Media and Journalism Studies at Aarhus University), the study is supported by several international associations of media and communication scholars, notably the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Asociación Latinoamericana de Investigadores de la Comunicación (ALAIC), European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

Collecting Quantitative and Qualitative Data

The project is based on a multi-method design. As a first step, an online survey was administered to media and communication scholars in late September and early October 2022. The survey is followed by qualitative interviews with selected academics during the years 2023 and 2024.