SciLifeLab Voices: The Coaching In Science Initiative (CSI) with Linda Kvastad and Sami Saarenpää

The Coaching In Science Initiative (CSI) team as seen in the main picture, from top left to bottom right:

Linda Kvastad, Sami Saarenpää, María Bueno Álvez, Anna Månberg,

Ana Rita Costa, Anabella Aguilera, Jill Jaworski

Hi Linda and Sami, Please tell us about the coaching in science initiative!

We believe that well-being and mental health skills are human rights. We believe that to reach new levels of scientific excellence, development of mental health skills within our community is of monumental importance. Regardless of where in the scientific community you work, it is in our humanity that we connect to each other, facilitate collaborations and grow. The main goals of CSI are to provide tools for better mental health, raise awareness across the scientific community and remove stigma related to mental health.

Do you have any role models of similar initiatives to be inspired from?

We are inspired by all the scientists and organizations who bring mental health to the center of attention. For example, The Inner Development Goals ( aims to cultivate our inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges. The NIH Training and Education  ( has lots of good self-coaching material on their YouTube channel in regards to mental health and well-being:

Tell us a little of the activities that you have arranged so far

We held our first launch seminar towards the end of May in 2023, where we presented the initiative and the central dogma of coaching. It can be viewed on our YouTube channel: The format for our seminars are ~20 minutes talks online, followed by offline local reflections and discussions. We plan to record all seminars so that they can be re-used as teaching/support material. We encourage people from other sites to watch together and have their own local discussion to raise awareness. We would be happy to get in contact with people from other sites who would like to arrange such watch parties and hold discussions afterwards. This is an excellent way to contribute, we are all here for each other. If you are interested in organizing CSI seminars at your location, hold a local watch party or in some other ways contribute, do reach out to us! You can reach us through our webpage, e-mail a committee member or more directly via workspace #coaching-in-science-initiative

What is the plan – where do you wish for the CSI initiative to be in 5 years?

In 5 years we hope to have grown into a national initiative with CSI contributors from all SciLifeLab sites. That we have become a platform where we, all of us, can share our experiences, struggles and what we have found to be helpful. We aim to be an easy-access resource on mental health and well-being within our scientific community. We hope to have raised awareness and destigmatized talking about our mental fitness, thoughts and emotions. Because the scientific community is ultimately a global community, we also hope to expand outside of Sweden, so that anyone anywhere in the world feels welcome to join in, share, get support and grow.

Do you have a wish for the SciLifeLab community – how can we all contribute to the CSI initiative?

To apply our curiosity for science also to our inner lives. To reflect about our current scientific culture, to start putting into words, what would a scientific community look like where well-being and mental health skills were treated as human rights? To consider, when we present the numbers for the year, could we choose to present the mental health and well-being survey before the number of high-impact papers? When we mentor others, could we choose to ask how they feel and practice active listening before discussing work related results? When we are at work, could we choose to pause more often and acknowledge the human presence of our colleagues?

How can we stay in touch with CSI and upcoming events?

We will post our events in the SciLifeLab event calendar: Our seminars will be recorded and can be watched and re-used as workshops to raise awareness. All CSI seminars, events, and extra content can be accessed via our homepage: The CSI seminars are recorded and available on YouTube: We have also created a channel in SciLifeLab workspace in Slack: #coaching-in-science-initiative.


Last updated: 2024-03-27

Content Responsible: victor kuismin(