Thirty percent of medical students have received treatment for a mental health condition and 15 percent have considered suicide — alarming statistics, say experts.
“The number of students reporting mental illness or considering suicide is shocking,” Twishaa Sheth, chair of the British Medical Association’s student welfare committee, told Student BMJ.
The new analysis of over 1,100 medical students appears in the September issue of the journal.
What’s more, 80 percent of the student participants who experienced mental health issues didn’t feel like they received adequate support. In addition, nearly 16 percent said they smoked, one quarter said they engaged in binge drinking every week, and almost 11 percent said they had taken illegal drugs more than once.
“What is most concerning is that over 80 percent who have experienced mental distress have found the support they received only moderate or (they) received none at all,” Debbie Cohen, senior medical research fellow at the University of Cardiff, told the journal.
Medical students might be suffering at higher-than-expected rates because of a perfect storm of stressors: a competitive educational environment, intense course loads, an unceasing exam schedule and the emotional stress of caring for sick patients, writes Student BMJ editor Matthew Billingsley.
They may also face stigma from within the field, which keeps them from seeking treatment.