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Stigma and mental health challenges in medical students
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  • Published on:
    Changing perspectives on Campus; KCL
    • Omar Butt, Medical Student King's College London
    • Other Contributors:
      • Saheel Mahmud, Medical Student
      • Muazammal Tahiri, Medical Student
      • Talha Jung, Medical Student
      • Qasim Munye, Medical Student

    We have read this paper; Ahmed Khaldoon Hankir et al. (2014) with great enthusiasm. We are medical students from Kings College London. We are aware that mental health disorders are a serious and widespread problem across medical schools.
    Recently, there has been a greater emphasis on mental health in medical students and is currently highest compared to previous years.

    Awareness on our campus has been mainstreamed by staff at the university, and events by societies. However, turn out at these events are discernably low, despite being publicised on the same platforms that cater to similar-sized social events. Our experience is that in a setting that is thought to be free from judgement by peers and seniors, students are still reluctant to seek help.

    One way to counter this difficulty for Kings College London, and other universities, other courses, would be to introduce a questionnaire to medical students, across the U.K, to find out what they believe are the reasons that they or their peers with mental health problems are reluctant to seek help. We think a practical way of managing this would be to implement a PALS type scheme but catered for students with mental health concerns. This one-on-one type talks can discuss aspects of stress, sleep deprivation, academic struggles that may contribute to their state. This type of help was incredibly helpful for students who had difficulty adjusting to the change in academic pace.

    We recommend Kings Colleg...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Changes in the Last Five Years

    I read this article with interest and, as a final year medical student, I am writing to add my thoughts to this growing area of discussion and describe how, in my experience, the situation has changed since 2014, when I started medical school and this article was published.
    The authors of this article noted that talking openly about challenges people with mental health issues face could relieve negative effects of stigma and help change general attitudes. I believe we have made progress towards this over the past five years. During the first part of university, mental health awareness campaigns came from student unions, not the MedSoc or clinical school, and there was little specific emphasis on medical student welfare. Now, my clinical school consistently encourages its students to speak out if they are struggling and signposts professionals and services we can access if needed. Additionally, students and doctors are talking publicly about their struggles, such as the rise of blogs including the Depressed Medical Student, and research by the British Medical Association (BMA).
    The article does not explore how the institutionalised pressure of medicine contributes to or exacerbates mental health problems. A BMA report showed that 90% survey respondents attributed their condition to the working or studying environment (“BMA - Supporting the mental health of doctors and medical students,” n.d.). In my pre-clinical years at medical school, we were pushed for academ...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.