Universiteit Leiden

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University doctor and psychologist

The University does its best to create a pleasant work environment. It may nevertheless happen that you are unable to work due to a short-term or long-term illness or disability. The University doctors will help you reduce health risks and advise you through your recovery and return to work.

University Doctor

If you become ill or wish to avoid developing symptoms, you should first discuss the matter with your immediate supervisor. If there is a problem and you and your supervisor cannot agree on how to deal with this, you can make an appointment with the University doctor. The University doctor advises 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. PhD candidates usually come into contact with the University doctor in one of two ways:

  • You are not ill, but you suffer from symptoms, problems, or issues related to the relationship between health and work.
  • You reported sick and want some advice on how to return to work. You can make an appointment with the University doctor to discuss this matter. If you do not contact the doctor yourself, after four to five weeks you will automatically be called in for an appointment.

The university doctor offers consultations by appointment. To make an appointment, you can use the online form or call the HSE department via 071 527 8015. Only employed PhD candidates can consult the University doctor regarding medical issues (i.e. contract and external PhD candidates cannot request this service). However, contract PhD candidates can request the University doctor to refer them to a psychologist (see below).

You can contact the University doctor for the following:

  • Advice on health and work
  • Support in case of illness
  • Support in returning to work
  • Illness prevention
  • Pre-employment medical examination

The University doctors are independent and have a medical confidentiality obligation. They will not divulge any confidential information without your permission. For more information on the duties and core values of the University doctors, see the university webpage.


A substantial part of PhD candidates have an increased risk for mental health problems, stress complaints or burnout. As of April 1, 2022, Leiden University has appointed a psychologist especially for PhD candidates: Agnes van Rossum.

The PhD psychologist offers psychological support for all PhD’s at Leiden University, no matter what kind of contract. So for employed PhD’s (a paid PhD position), contract PhD’s (subsidised by a grant) or external PhD’s (supported by own funds). The psychological support is free for all PhD’s and is strictly confidential.

You can contact the PhD psychologist with psychological issues caused by the promotion process or that have a direct effect on it. You can think 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.

You can make an appointment for an intake interview by sending an e-mail to phdpsychologist@sea.leidenuniv.nl. The purpose of the intake interview is to determine together which help is appropriate for you. The interview will take one hour and can take place via Teams video call or on location at the Plexus Student Centre in Leiden.

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