In sickness and in health, and a ‘duty of care': phd student health, stress and wellbeing issues and supervisory experiences

Gina Wisker, Gillian Robinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Ill health, mental and physical, during PhD study, is now becoming more widely recognised, but is still under-researched. For doctoral students, health, stress and wellbeing are fundamentally linked with intellectual development, conceptual threshold crossings (Kiley & Wisker 2009) and achievement at doctoral level. Our established and recent research indicates a close connection between success in the intellectual, doctoral learning journey and sensitive, informed management of and support for physical and mental health issues experienced by doctoral students, whether they are ongoing, or appear as time limited crises. The role of supervisors in supporting students with health issues is also under-researched, and is sparked latterly by recent concerns specifically with doctoral student health (Wisker & Gordon in THE 2016). Our focus here arises from recent work on wellbeing for both students and supervisors, where supervisor empathy and engagement at personal, institutional and learning levels is seen as fundamental in effective supervisory relationships with students. Postgraduate student learning journeys involve the whole person, over time, and both postgraduates and supervisors need to be aware of and develop strategies to minimise the damage done by ill health, emotional and psychological upset, which can hamper general health and affect timely (or any) completion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpaces, journeys and new horizons for postgraduate supervision
EditorsE. Bitzer
Place of PublicationStellenbosch South Africa
PublisherSun Media Press
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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