Mental Health Awareness: beating imposter syndrome

Maintaining good mental health during a PhD can be a challenge. Simone, a research student in the Centre for Criminology Research and a Research Student Rep, talks about her tips for shaking off imposter syndrome and managing wellbeing.

"Ask any PhD student and chances are they will admit to suffering from imposter syndrome at least once throughout the doctoral journey. 

"For me, it struck in the first year of my PhD. I didn't feel academic enough and that is something you tend to internalise rather than voice. 

"Fortunately, I had come from a demanding career so I knew that it was absolutely normal to feel this way in new and stressful situations. Remembering all the times I had felt like this before (and when it had turned out okay) helped me to manage the anxiety that accompanies imposter syndrome and move forward from it. 

"I've been very conscious of this in my role as a PGR rep and now actively remind new research students that peer support and talking to your supervisory team can help rid you of the spectre of imposter syndrome! 

"Imposter syndrome can hit you in any role, any position and in any area of life. I remember a 22-year old me working with a chaotic, well-educated drug user who would try to shake my confidence in any way he could by questioning my age, why I was in my role and what experience I had. A very wise and seasoned probation officer said to me: "You don't have to justify why you're here or how you got here, the only thing that matters is you're here and you deserve to be here." That's something that in future years I have tried to pass on to others who find themselves in similar situations.

"I'm in the second year of my PhD and enjoying the experience. I feel fortunate that I am in the position where I have the opportunity to be on this journey and I'm enjoying seeing where my research takes me. 

"To manage my mental health, I walk my crazy black Labradors, spend time with family and friends (socially distanced!) and watch entirely non-academic Netflix programmes."

                   Simone Hatchard, PhD student

About Simone

Simone Hatchard is in the second year of her PhD which focuses on understanding the use of digital forensics in the investigation and prosecution of major crime investigations in England and Wales. 

Before beginning her PhD - which is part funded by the  both the Doctoral Training Alliance and South Wales Police - Simone spent 18 years working as a practitioner and senior manager within the criminal justice system in a range of roles including probation; youth offending; homelessness and substance misuse.