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PGR Supervisor Guide to Supporting the Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) of Postgraduate Researchers: A MHWB Module for PGR Supervisors to do

'Supporting PGR Mental Health and Wellbeing for PGR Supervisors' - Open Access Module


'Supporting PGR Mental Health and Wellbeing for PGR Supervisors' - a module developed for you! 

The University of Manchester developed this module for their PGR supervisors to help them better understand and support PGR mental health and wellbeing.  The module is open access and we encourage you to take a look at the and maybe complete it.  It takes less than an hour to do.    The module was developed using resources developed for the sector and by  the sector through HEFCE Catalyst funding in 2018.  For more information, see the background information provided below. 

Click this link to view the module



Background to the development of the Manchester module

Catalyst Funded Online Mental Health Training Resources for PGR Supervisors and Students

The 2018 Vitae report 'Exploring wellbeing and mental health and associated support services for postgraduate researchers' highlighted the risks among postgraduate research students regarding their wellbeing and mental health, the challenges institutions face, and the effectiveness of support provision. (1)  The HEFCE Catalyst Fund provided £1.5 million for 17 projects across the HE sector to improve support for the mental health and wellbeing of postgraduate research students. The Office for Students worked with Research England to deliver this scheme. The projects develop new practice for pastoral support and training materials for students, supervisors and other staff. (2)

Durham University successfully bid for Catalyst project funding to develop an online educational resource for PGR supervisors to support PGRs mental health and wellbeing that could be rolled out to the whole UK HE sector.  The project was led by Prof Stan Taylor, three Doctoral Training Partnerships - NINE, Northern Bridge and IAPETUS, and the Durham Student’s Union. (3)

Their starting point in the project was the recognition that many PGRs are unsure about whether to name any mental health difficulties that they experience during their studies. Supervisors are not always aware of the challenges, and even if they notice, they often need support to know how or if to raise the issue. We know that mental health can impact the process of postgraduate research supervision. Their intention was to create training materials that support all parties to recognise and name distress, and to signpost appropriately. They created tools to help all parties reflect on how supervision may be impacted, for either individual reflection or as a support for supervisory discussions or group training days.  These resources have been made available restriction free to all UK universities to use with their institution as they deem fit. (4) 

Brief overview taken from the University of Manchester course webpage:

‘This module presents an overview of mental health within the context of postgraduate research and guidance on how supervisors can identify, respond to and support PGRs in distress. 

The content of this module, including the discussions with PGRs and supervisors, was initially developed by the University of Durham and built into this module by White Bicycle Ltd, with the support of the Office for Students and Research England.

Many thanks to the University of Durham and White Bicycle Ltd for allowing the content and development to be shared and adapted for the benefit of the higher education sector.’ (5)



1. 'Exploring wellbeing and mental health and associated support services for postgraduate researchers', Vitae, May 2018

2. University of Durham Catalyst Project Webpage 

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.