With the aim of providing a supportive and healthy work environment, BIST recently launched the programme WellBIST. This initiative offers members of the BIST Community individual sessions with accredited psychotherapists, as well as group workshops and seminars.
The fact that researchers endure high levels of stress is not a new finding. We have known for years that graduate students question their career options and many report being depressed, and that a number of postdoctoral researchers feel disenchanted with their work life.
Studies have been showing a rise in the diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and other related disorders. This might be just the tip of the iceberg, as for many years unhealthy behaviours have been normalised, and the importance of maintaining healthy environments and lifestyles has been overlooked.
The scientific research environment in the BIST Community is no different. From students to group leaders, researchers are faced with complex challenges that go beyond the work itself and extend into their personal and professional wellbeing.
Sensitive to these issues, the directors of the BIST research centres facilitated the development of a psychological support service to help promote a healthy work environment within the BIST Community. The programme was developed by the BIST People Working Group along with other members of the community.
“We perceived and received requests from the community in the need to provide resources aimed at healing of mental health. To respond to these requests, the Human Resources departments of the BIST centres, in collaboration with the safety areas, developed the WellBIST programme, which has a group of psychotherapists willing to provide guidance and support to our research community and non-researcher in matters related to mental health in the workplace,” explains Julio Gómez, Head of Human Resources at ICN2.
The WellBIST programme offers both individual and group activities:
• Psychological sessions: Members of the BIST Community may contact one of the selected therapists directly and arrange a maximum of five confidential sessions per year at a reduced price.
• Activities: Workshops, talks and resources on new ways of working and living, or to discuss common problems related to wellbeing and mental health.
“This programme is aimed at finding support to manage the present and draw the future, not the past. You can identify priorities, explore constraints, and develop strategies to overcome obstacles. In the WellBIST Programme we do life therapy, to help improve your quality of life,” says Mia Torrente Tomás, Coordinator of the programme’s team of psychotherapists.
Since late 2022, WellBIST has become an additional resource that members of the BIST Community have access to, helping ensure a better work-life balance and a healthier and more supportive work environment. As Julio Gómez says, “The goal is to maintain good mental health in our community, to be able to carry out the task in a sector as competitive, demanding and innovative as ours.”