On Friday 17 May 2024, the Assembly Hall of the Main Building of the Science Park of the University of Valencia (UV) was the setting for the 8th Conference of Women Researchers, organised by the equality group of the Institute of Molecular Science (ICMol) thanks to the grant awarded by the Unitat d'Igualtat for the organisation of activities to promote gender equality and the visibility of women in the university environment. The event, which focused on "Mental health in the academy", attracted a notable attendance both in person and online, with a third of the attendance via streaming.

The day opened with a round table with the participation of authorities and staff responsible for ICMol, such as: Dr. Antonio Alberola (researcher and manager of ICMol) Dr. María González Béjar (researcher and representative of the ICMol Equality group); Prof. Rafael Ibáñez Puchades (Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry of the UV) and Prof. Sylvia Martínez Gallego (Vice-rector of Equality, Diversity and Inclusive Policies of the UV).

The opening panel set the scene for the event with inspiring speeches highlighting the importance of gender equality and mental wellbeing in academia.

Afterwards, Dr. Maria Fátima Lucas, CEO and founder of Zymvol Biomodeling, gave an invited talk entitled "Mental resilience - the unspoken challenge of scientists and entrepreneurs". In her presentation, Dr. Lucas addressed in depth the not-so-visible but crucial challenges facing the scientific and academic community in relation to mental resilience. She made a comparison between the challenges of academia when it comes to research and the stakes of entrepreneurship when it comes to start-ups. Dr. Lucas presented her company ZYMVOL, dedicated to the modelling of enzymes, insisting on the importance of these studies for pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnological applications through two examples developed in recent years. The conclusion of the talk was a list of tips that he considered essential to face the challenges both in academia and in the business and industrial world.

The day concluded with the round table, whose theme was "Mental health in academia with a gender perspective". Moderated by Nicolás D'Opazo, Head of Communication at IRTIC (UV), the round table was attended by prominent speakers:

- Isabel Núñez Ruiz, Psychologist at the UV Equality Unit, who provided a professional perspective on the mental health challenges faced by female academics.
- María Vallés Iborra, representative on the Faculty Board of the Physics and Chemistry double degree students and member of the Equality Commission of the Faculty of Chemistry (UV), who shared her experience and the vision of the undergraduate student body.
- Laura Antón González, representative of Research Staff in Training in the UV faculty, who shared her experience and challenges from the perspective of research staff in training.
- María Fátima Lucas, CEO and founder of Zymvol Biomodeling, who complemented the debate with her experience in the management of mental health in the scientific business environment.

The panel discussion provided a dynamic and enriching debate, exploring the various facets of mental health in academia, at different career levels, highlighting the importance of addressing these issues from a gender perspective. Topics such as the importance of collegiality, how to promote healthy competition from very early stages in the academic career were discussed. At the individual level, seeking help and guidance from professionals, as well as building a support network, were some of the most powerful solutions that can help people navigate moments of stress and anxiety. This is especially true for young people and young professionals, who appear to be more vulnerable.

The VIII Jornada de la Mujer Investigadora concluded with a consensus on the need to continue fostering spaces for discussion and support to improve mental health in academia, underlining the commitment of ICMol and UV to gender equality and the well-being of its academic community.