Being a health care practitioner and a medical educationist, I’m particularly concerned with the importance of mental health and self-care among medical students. It is not new to know that tackling with studies in a medical school can be incredibly stressful. Is medical school stress worth it?
Poor mental health support for medical students:
An online survey reveals that there is a lack of mental health awareness and support for medical students. The results show around 30% of students receive treatment for mental health problems. 15% of them considered committing suicide during medical school years. 80% of respondents agreed that the mental support available to them was poor.
One of the Postgraduate students shared his fears for his younger colleagues who are suffering from depression and self-esteem issues. They take prescription medication during examinations. Another respondent shared his experiences where several consultants and tutors at medical schools consider mental health issues as a weakness. They believe that depression is not a real illness.
Why mental health problems are increasing in medical schools?
The reasons for the rise in mental health issues among medical students can be complex. Students usually have inflexible timetables for exams. They have to balance the emotional strain of visiting sick patients during ward rounds and maintain professional standards. Medical courses demand an over-competitive environment which has detrimental effects on the health of medical students.
The number of students suffering from mental illnesses and considering suicide is shocking. The lack of support available for medical students is of major concern. It is crucial for students to identify their mental health issues and make these known. So that necessary support and advice could be provided to them.
The American Medical Student Association is aware of the growing concern of mental health among medical students. The cycles of anxiety, stress, and depression starts during the initial years of medical school. The reason is that students lack time for healthy eating, enough sleep, regular exercise, and social activities.
Is the educational system of medical schools responsible?
According to research published in 2014, medical students had better mental health than the rest of the population before entering into a medical school. The results show the high rates of mental distress in medical students. Hence supports the concern that the educational environment of a medical school and training process contribute to the deteriorating mental health of healthcare professionals. Therefore, the interventions targeting medical doctors must take place during the start of medical training.
What can be done to reduce stress among new doctors?
AMSA suggests promoting candid discussions on campus to provide opportunities to discuss mental health issues with classmates and talk about their own struggles. Moreover, changing medical curricula, lowering the volume of content covered in lectures and reducing the number of lecture room hours may help reduce anxiety and stress over grades. Mental health awareness programs should be made a mandatory part of medical school curricula. In addition, students should be educated about strategies for stress management and the importance of mental health.
Your mental health is important!
Dr. Scott Rodgers suggests “You don’t want to lose your humanity by becoming a doctor. Students should participate in activities outside of medicine, maintain personal connections, and make their own physical health a priority.”
Talk about it!
In the final analysis, medical school stress is not worth sacrificing your mental health. If you are a medical student or a senior doctor and suffered anxiety during medical school. Please drop your experiences into the comments section below. Write about how did you cope with it? What strategies did you follow to maintain a balance between your medical and personal life?