The challenges of mental health among the Syrian medical students

Vytenis Andriukaitis, Member of the European Commission in charge of Health and Food Safety (in the middle) and Vĕra Jourová, Member of the EC in charge of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (second from left) participated at the Summit for equal quality of products for all, in Bratislava. Date: 05/09/2017. Location: Bratislava. © European Union, 2017 / Photo: Gabriel Kuchta.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Alexey Yousef. He is a 6th year M.D student in Tishreen University, Lattakia, Syria. IFMSA wise, he is the president and founder of the Syrian Medical Students Association SMSA-Tishreen local committee that officially represents his university in the IFMSA.

If relationship status, academic performance, smoking and alcohol are well-known risk factors that affect mental health, where should a war that torn a country apart, displaced 6.5 million individuals and resulted in more than 2 million casualties fit in?!

Suffering from terrorism, lack of fundamental resources, and travel sanctions; the Syrian medical students have been under a devastating pressure in the recent years that fundamentally affected their mental health.Before the war, mental health stigma has always been a problem in Syria that halted people from seeking psychiatric help even if they experience the most debilitating symptoms.

This stigma, in turn, created other problems. These included a general lack of mental health awareness, along with alack of medical students’ interest to seek a career in psychiatry, to mention but a few. Therefore, the recent war came and complicated an already challenging state.

It’s the war

The hardships of war, coupled with the mental health stigma, and the absence of adequate mental health support in the country created a tough situation for medical students who already suffer from high levels of study related stress and anxiety mainly due to the challenging nature of medical school. All these factors combined has led to a critical situation where the mental health of the future healthcare professionals came at stake.

Depression is a major mental health issue that plagues the medical students’ population worldwide. It happens that, recently, my research team conducted a study to assess depression among the Syrian medical students. According to our–unpublished yet–data, over half the students suffer from clinically significant depressive symptoms in our sample.

Health limiting factors

The vast majority of students reported that they were negatively affected by the crisis, and that there is a need for mental health support programs in the universities. However, strikingly, only a very small percentage sought psychological and mental support, which could be clearly attributable to the aforementioned mental health-limiting factors.

Since depression markedly reduces academic performance and productivity, an efficient and effective solution should emerge in response to this evolving mental health issue. Mental Health awareness and advocacy campaigns could arise as invaluable tools to address this problem. These could decrease mental health stigma and encourage students to seek psychiatric supports once they feel any depressive symptoms.

Moreover, TeleMedicine could also emerge as an extremely valuable implement. It could overcome the mental health stigma through allowing the medical students, and the population at large, to consult a psychiatrist from the comfort of their homes.

Life and death

It is very important to address the mental health issues in medical students and healthcare professionals because they are that thin line that stands between life and death. They should be mentally healthy to deliver the best healthcare to their patients, and to take an active part in rebuilding healthcare in Syria in the future. In the end, the common mental health disorders are effectively treatable if managed correctly. However, if these are neglected, they could build up to pose the greatest threat ever!

About the writer

Alexey Yousef is a 6th year M.D student in Tishreen University, Lattakia, Syria. IFMSA wise, he is the president and founder of the Syrian Medical Students Association SMSA-Tishreen local committee that officially represents his university in the IFMSA. Research wise, he is engaged in a number of research projects. Locally, he founded MED Research Team to support research in the local region and to join the efforts of local academic and researchers with their international peers. On a personal level, he is into bodybuilding, and nature sports, and just loves spending time with his two German Shepherds.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

UN’s Grandi slams ‘toxic language of politics’ aimed at refugees, migrants

New Syria fighting represents ‘giant powder keg’, warns aid veteran, as he leaves UN stage

Facebook wins EU approval for WhatsApp acquisition; just a sign of the times

Eurozone 2013: Where to?

“A Junior Enterprise is run only by students.. there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems”

The success story of a Chinese investment in the Greek port of Piraeus

These are the countries best prepared for the fight against cancer

Latin America’s cities are ready to take off. But their infrastructure is failing them

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum 2019 concluded, in association with The European Sting

Seven trends shaping the future of the mining and metals industry

The miserables and the untouchables of the economic crisis

These five exercise trends will help society and your health

Spending another 3 billion euros on Turkey feels better than admitting EU’s failure

European Commission and four online marketplaces sign a Product Safety Pledge to remove dangerous products

The great challenge of the 21st century is learning to consume less. This is how we can do it

‘Still time’ to stop a ‘bloody battle’ for Libya’s capital, insists Guterres

Four ways Europe can become a global innovation leader

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Civil society organisations disenchanted with “Youth Guarantee”

International Day of the Midwife: 5 things you should know

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

4 bold new ways New York is going clean and green

UN recognises role of sport in achieving sustainable development

Finland, Switzerland and New Zealand lead the way at teaching skills for the future

Theresa May in search of a magic plan to invoke Article 50 and start Brexit negotiations now

Mind the (gender) gap: why we should stand together on inclusion

A Sting Exclusive: “China is Making Good Stories not Bad Ones”, Ambassador Yang highlights from Brussels

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

India is failing 175 million of its young people. Here’s the solution

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

Here are three key ways that data analytics can improve the workplace

Who is culpable in the EU for Ukraine’s defection to Russia?

‘Continue working together’ UN chief urges DR Congo, as country heads to polls

Can China deal with climate change without the U.S.?

How cities can lead the way in bridging the global housing gap

Is ECB helping Germany to buy cheaply the rest of Europe?

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

UN chief welcomes Taliban’s temporary truce announcement, encourages all parties to embrace ‘Afghan-owned peace’

The 28 EU leaders care more about fiscal orthodoxy than effectively fighting youth unemployment

How Finland is fighting fake news – in the classroom

UN food agency appeals for access to key storage facility amid fight for Hudaydah

Why artificial intelligence is learning emotional intelligence

EU Directive makes haircut on uncovered deposits a standard in bank bail-ins

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

Seize the opportunities of digital technology to improve well-being but also address the risks

When will Eurozone’s unemployment rate stop being Europe’s worst nightmare?

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

The secret weapon in the fight for sustainability? The humble barcode

Terrorism diverts resources from ‘much-needed’ development to ‘costly’ security, warns UN envoy for Central Africa

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

MEPs cap prices of calls within EU and approve emergency alert system

Recession: the best argument for growth

There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature

Tsipras imposes more austerity on insolvent Greece; plans to win new early election soon

Immigrant integration policies have improved but challenges remain

Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

What the Corn Laws tell us about Brexit Britain

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s