Cactus Foundation Mental Health Survey

“It all starts with the mind.”

A survey on researchers, for researchers. On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, CACTUS launched a global survey on mental health, wellbeing, and fulfilment in academia. The intent of this survey was to understand what aspects of their work bring researchers joy, what aspects cause them stress, and what research institutions can do to create a more supportive and nurturing research culture.

Project Details

The CACTUS Mental Health Survey was run in 7 languages – English, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, Portuguese, and Arabic – to tap into the top 10 research-producing countries. Participation was voluntary, and respondents had the option to remain anonymous.

We collected 13,000 responses from 169 countries. This was the most diverse study conducted globally in academia.

We released two comprehensive survey reports:

  • Joy and Stress Triggers: A global survey on mental health among researchers

    Our first survey report was released on October 10, 2020 i.e. World Mental Health Day. This report provides a quantitative overview of survey findings. It covers topics such as joy and stress triggers in researchers’ lives, their views on what a more nurturing research culture would look like, and the kind of support researchers need from institutions and decision-makers in academia. This report contains insights relevant to researchers, university officials, publishers, and funders.
  • How to Foster a Supportive Research Environment: A thematic analysis of open responses from the CACTUS Mental Health Survey 2020

    We released our second survey report on January 15, 2021. This qualitative report explores the themes arising from responses to a critical open-ended question in the survey – “Do you have any suggestions for organizations within academia or other related stakeholders on what they can do to ensure a great work environment for researchers?” It offers insights on key changes researchers would like to see in research culture and the academic work environment.
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Keeping the conversation going

  • CACTUS webinar series on academic mental health and wellbeing

    Close to 7000 researchers and academics registered for 10 webinars that we organized between January 2020 and May 2021. This webinar series covered topics such as PhD mental health, dealing with imposter feelings, breaking the stigma around academic mental health, dealing with stress and burnout in academia, and work-life balance.
  • R Voice

    R Voice is a community that empowers researchers to connect, share, support, and grow. This community welcomes researchers' thoughts and experiences on academic mental health, self-care and wellbeing, and research culture. Members of the R Voice community can have open discussions on a variety of topics relevant to academic life; share personal stories and experiences; seek and offer support, advice, and motivation; and make connections with researchers across the globe.

Impact Numbers


Number of people impacted


Amount Invested

CACTUS webinar series on academic mental health and wellbeing

Services contributed

What researchers say