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The RSB, in partnership with a number of other organisations, is looking to coordinate support and training for technicians who in turn are providing vital support for postgraduate research students.

The RSB will work with the Science Council, the Institute of Physics, the University of Nottingham and the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool to coordinate support and training for technicians in being able to identify, respond to, and support staff and students who may have a mental health issue or crisis.

Several surveys suggest that mental health issues are substantially more prevalent in postgraduate research (PGR) students, with some sources suggesting 40-50% of PGR students will suffer poor mental health each year, approximately twice the rate seen in undergraduates and the general UK population.

Technicians

The majority of technical staff working across UK universities and research institutes are in student-facing roles and, whilst their technical expertise and practical support is an essential part of the teaching and learning experience, the ‘front-line’ nature of their roles means that technical staff are also providing important but potentially unrecognised pastoral support to students.

In order to support technicians who face these needs on a broader scale, the collaborating organisations mentioned will launch a survey for technicians, to find out how many have provided such support, and how equipped they felt to do so.

The RSB will particularly look to collate experiences, ideas and feedback from technicians within our membership and the wider biosciences community.

The survey will be released to RSB members and colleagues once it is live.

Read more about the background to this initiative over on the Science Council’s blog, and find out more about The Technician Commitment, a university and research institution initiative, led by a steering group of sector bodies.

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