Mental Health

Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also influences how you handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Recognizing and taking steps to nurture your mental health is crucial to stabilizing constructive behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Focusing on mental health care can increase productivity, enhance self-image, and improve relationships.

According to a survey by Het PNN in 2020, 47% of PhDs in the Netherlands have an increased risk of mental health problems. The risk of mental health problems is even higher among international PhDs at 55.6%. This is related to the high work pressure, large amount of work, long working hours, perfectionism and publication pressure. Furthermore, 39% of PhDs show serious symptoms of burnout.

All this to say – mental health is important and as a PhD, you are more likely than most to develop mental health problems. Look after yourself, spend time on self-care and don’t be afraid to ask for help when things aren’t going well. You’re not alone. And there is help available.

Please see below for some options to access professional mental health support as a PhD at Leiden University. You can also visit our page “Personal Development & Well-being” for some relevant courses and e-health programs.


Huisarts, or GPs, are the gateway to specialist medical care in the Netherlands. You need a referral from your huisarts to go to a hospital (unless it’s an emergency!) or see a specialist. Your huisarts can give you a referral to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, which is covered on the basic health insurance. Many huisarts clinics also have someone on site specialised in mental health for minor issues.

PhD Psychologist

The PhD Psychologist offers psychological support for all PhDs at Leiden University, no matter what kind of contract – this includes employed PhDs (a paid PhD position), contract PhDs (subsidised by a grant) and external PhDs (supported by own funds). The psychological support is free for all PhDs and is strictly confidential.

You can contact the PhD psychologist if you are dealing with problems of:

  • physical stress, (work) pressure, exhaustion, disbalance in work and private life, burnout
  • demotivation, concentration problems, procrastination
  • anxiety, fear of failure, future uncertainties, perfectionism, assertiveness, imposter syndrome
  • mood issues, low self-esteem, negative self-image
  • mismatch in needs and supervision, problematic work environment
  • social isolation, loneliness, adjustment problems, culture shock, corona crisis

The aim is to increase the well-being of PhD candidates so that they can design and complete their PhD trajectory in a healthy way. On the one hand by offering individual help to solve problems and to prevent worse, on the other also taking a preventive approach with information and education.

The PhD Psychologist is Agnes van Rossum and you can reach her at:


Phone: +31 6-38 55 70 46

Secretariat: +31 7 15 27 27 27

Working days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday.


The Bedrijfsarts (University doctor) can help you if you are experiencing a problem with your physical or mental health and you and your supervisor cannot agree on how to deal with it. The University doctor gives advice to both you and your supervisor. You can then decide jointly whether or not to follow the doctor’s advice. University doctors are usually called in by your direct supervisor, but you can also seek their advice on your own initiative by filling in this form.