An American survey has found that architecture is the most time-consuming university degree.

Conducted by Indiana University, the 2016 Study of Student Engagement (NSSE) revealed that students in the architecture faculty worked an average of 22.2 hours per week – 2.5 hours more than chemical engineering students, who came in second

The numbers, which were gathered across student surveys from the past year, represent the average amount of time spent preparing for class at college each week, including studying, reading, writing, and doing homework or lab/studio work.

While this particular study is American, it does add to mounting evidence being gathered around the world linking the behavioural trends of the profession to a heightened risk and prevalence of mental illness.

A report published by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention showed that architects and engineers are the fifth most likely group to commit suicide by occupation in the US.

Across the Atlantic in the UK, the profession faces a similar predicament. In 2016, The Architect’s Journal published its annual student survey which revealed that 26 per cent of the students surveyed said they were receiving or had received medical help for mental health problems resulting from their course.

Back home a ground-breaking report from the NSW Architects Registration Board released in 2016 gives an Australian voice to this theory. But in some ways Literature Review Architects and Mental Health goes further than the above surveys by linking these statistics with the behavioural trends traditionally associated with the job, like poor sleep patterns, poor diet, and high-stress environments.

It demonstrates how mental illness is at special risk for those architects working in isolation, like those practicing in rural and regional NSW, as well as students within the architecture faculties of Australian universities. It also notes that behavioural trends traditionally associated with the job, like poor sleep patterns, poor diet, and high-stress environments are now shown to be linked to long term mental illness.

But while the review doesn’t attempt to make conclusive statements about the state of the profession’s mental health and wellbeing as the above do, it does uncover a real lack of conclusive data that could inform such assessments and, subsequently, the establishment of appropriate support systems for the industry going forward.

The next steps, says Timothy Horton, Registrar of the NSW Architects Registration Board, will be to set up a series of targeted focus groups and surveys of both undergraduate and registered architects, so that a clearer picture of the profession’s baseline wellbeing can be realised.

The full NSSE report can be read here