Mental health is a very complex topic, because there is no one size fits all. Two roughly identical phd-student can perceive their situation very differently. One is doing fine, having no issues whatsoever, while the other suffers from light depression or lack of motivation.
As a phd-student, you are trying to live up to an illusion, a perception of what you observe of others. It is not uncommon to have a sense of lacking behind, or feeling like a fraud. Imposter syndrome is very common among junior researchers, and more often than not you are feeling you are not intelligent enough for the job.
Statistically, young researchers are more at risk of developing severe mental health issues than any other group of employees. As a phd-student in Norway you are by all essential purposes an employee with the same pension benefits and vacation rights. However, you are especially exempt from the work hour regulations, indicating that you in theory can work whenever and how much you want and not get extra overtime for it. During their tenure as a phd-student, many feel the pressure to work more than they should, resulting in severe consequences for their mental well-being.
Especially in the wake of corona, the issues are even more pressing and with long term effects. The feeling of insecurity, isolation and worry can have a negative impact on the progression. Our aim is to make the universities acknowledge these challenges generally and especially now, and give new phd-students more guidance and support. We believe this will have a positive impact on the statistics.
Current project: Effects of COVID-19 on PhDs (ongoing)