The mental health of health professionals: is it worth it?

Mental health UN 2018

A mobile mental health team treats patients living in makeshift shelters in Chapagaun, Nepal, just outside the capital Kathmandu (WHO, 2015)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Rana Gouda, a fourth-year Medical student who works in IFMSA-Egypt Tanta where she serves as public reaction director. Ms Gouda is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Look up mental health in the dictionary and you’ll find [a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being]. I’m a medical student and I can tell you that every medical student, I’ve ever befriended, faced or still struggling with a physiological or an emotional complication.

Future medical professionals in Egypt go through a lot, that at each stage in their lives they suffer a different mental illness. The irony here is exquisite, to become a doctor in Egypt, at one point or, in many cases, at every point in your life your mental health state will be defined as unhealthy.

Unfortunately, mental issues start way too early here. Society perspective is exceptionally narrow that they see medical career as the only way to prosperous life. Accordingly, you grow up thinking that if you made it to medical school you are successful. Students go on through high school studying under a vast amount of pressure that they can get depressed, panic attacks, anxiety and the list goes on because they trust their lives depend on the grade they will get. I’ve friends who are into my school just because the society convinced them this is the way to success.

Those who think they`re blessed because they made it into medical school, soon become devastated by the reality. The professors treat you as if you`re not good enough, your colleagues claiming they regret getting into this career, and the tremendous curriculum you`ve to perfect. You`ve no way but to fall into the circle of mental illness all over again.

If you’re lucky to survive these 6 years without having a mental illness at one point or another, don’t get too excited! the survival war is not over! Are you a resident in your university hospital? Get ready for a hell of a residence with your superiors again treating you as if you’re not good enough, working-hours are inhumanly and you are exhausted literally all the time.  Are you a resident in public hospital? Get ready for a low paycheck that you can’t even support yourself not to mention your family thus the feeling of helplessness is unbearable. Are you a resident in a private hospital? Well good luck finding a job there because you need another degree for that.

I`m still determined to become a surgeon yet I ask myself sometimes is it worth it? To me the answer is hell yeah simply because this`s my childhood dream to help others consequently I won’t abandon it. However, I hope to god that I don’t give up at some point because of the pressure I know I will be under. I wish there were a more secure way. I mean, after all, I want to get into the profession of helping others so how come the circumstances is putting me into the position of harming myself. My advice, if you want to seek medical career in Egypt ask yourself: “is it worth it?’”
About the author

My name is Rana Gouda. I am a fourth-year Medical student and work in IFMSA-Egypt Tanta where I was selected to be the public reaction director. My extra curriculum activates extended beyond IFMSA. I was the head of the features department in Insider Tanta (the 1st student newspaper in Egypt) for a year, and a member for two years. Also, I was a member in the presentation team in Enactus Tanta. I had a summer job as an English teacher for children from which I learned a lot about how to connect with children and the simplest way to deliver an information.

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