New to Oxford?
Join the Oxford Research Staff Society (OxRSS) to meet other researchers, join in on social activities in and around the city, and ensure your voice is heard in university decision-making.
Your partner or family will find a warm welcome at Oxford’s Newcomers Club, an organisation, run by volunteers and hosting regular gatherings. The club’s aim is to help those accompanying newly-arrived visiting scholars, graduate students or newly-appointed academic and administrative members of the University to settle in and to give them the opportunity to meet people in Oxford
Your first line of advice and support is the staff-member in your department responsible for Human Resources (HR). If you are unsure who this is, or want advice from someone with a wider perspective, we recommend talking to the HR team in your Division. More details on how to get advice plus University policies and procedures are on the University HR site.
Need more support?
The Counselling Service is here to help all Oxford students gain understanding and insight into any difficulties they may be experiencing, to develop emotional resilience and put into effect real change, enabling the fulfilment of academic and personal potential. The Service offers free and confidential support, but it is not an emergency service.
Research staff members can call on the support of the Occupational Health Service (OHS) for support and counselling for work-attributable health issues impacting performance and wellbeing at work. This team comprises specialist clinical staff that provide independent advice to employers and employees concerning the relationship between health and work, and the effects one has on the other. The OHS web pages also contain links to a wide range of wellbeing and mental health resources.
All staff members (and members of their immediate family) can access the free and confidential Employee Counselling Service provided by Zurich care. This telephone service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can offer support with a range of personal as well as work-related issues. For more information on the service and how to access it, please visit the Employee Counselling Service page.
If you are one of the many researchers who are finding the academic environment especially stressful at the moment, there are some useful tips on developing resilience on the Oxbridge Early Career Researcher blog that may help you to put things in perspective.
At times of uncertainty in their own work or in the wider environment, many researchers respond by putting off dealing with their bigger challenges and instead focus on smaller, peripheral tasks which can be more easily accomplished – clearing your email inbox or sorting your electronic filing system, for example.
While these tasks may well need doing, using this as a way of deferring the time when you will have to tackle the bigger issues, though understandable, can become a habit. A new podcast on the Oxbridge Early Career Researcher blog has excellent tips for researchers who are finding that current circumstances have created the perfect conditions for procrastination to set in: do have a listen if you feel that this describes you.
If it feels as though your whole world is out of kilter, taking time to step back and evaluate how you prioritise the amount of time and attention that you give to work and all the other elements of your life is a worthwhile exercise.
The podcast series ‘The Happiness Lab’ by psychology professor Dr Laurie Santos of Yale University is based on the latest research into human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. Try listening to the episode on Working your Way to Happiness (Season 2 episode 4), though all the episodes give useful insights into how we can make small changes to improve our levels of happiness.
Talking to others about the difficulties that you’re experiencing can be a good first step to dealing with them. However, whether you’re new to Oxford or you’ve been here for a long time, finding someone to talk to about your struggles with work and your sense of wellbeing can be a challenge – often we worry that revealing these thoughts and feelings to our friends and family will make them think less of us.
The new Oxford initiative OU Coffee Ambassadors responds to this challenge by offering free opportunities for a confidential conversation over coffee with trained peers who provide a listening ear and may be able to signpost you to other resources that you weren’t aware of.