Mental health: a medical school’s demand

World Health Organisation Mental Health

Out of the Shadows: Making Mental Health a Global Development Priority (WHO, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Leticia Campos, a 18 year old Brazilian medicine student from the “Universidade de Pernambuco”. Ms Campos is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Anxiety. Burnout. Depression. Unfortunately, mental health issues, like the ones mentioned, are becoming more pervasive amongst medicine students. Due to the far from empathetic context, we are constantly surrounded by unreachable goals, social pressure as well as physical and mental exhaustion. No longer are we human beings, a person with desires, hobbies, interests.

No sooner had we filled our admission forms than we are perceived only as physicians or medicine students. Our category is supposed to be the breadwinner, the one who will make ends meet, the lucky individual who is likely to prosper economically and whose social status seems to be a wanderlust.

So, as healthcare professionals, how should we best care for our own mental health? To achieve such a complex goal, the first step should be taken within the academic sphere, including both students and members of the executive board in the “task force”. Provided that universities demonstrate awareness and commitment, solutions will easily appear. This is how a student movement emerged at the institution where I attend.

In order to come up with an alternative to place “mental health” as an object of significant debate, students at my university have enacted to plan projects whose principal aim was to help ourselves to deal with this agenda full of obligations. For this purpose, “Caring Mind” was created.

The project, which occurs during the first semester of each year, not only was it acknowledged by its influence on student’s demeanor, but also received great adherence. Whereas relevant topics such as “time management” and “suicide” are discussed, social media is used with the purpose to accompany the routine of the subscribed students, as well as to provide advice and support from their own colleagues.

Moreover, the response to the project resulted in positive feedback, impacting the participants in an outstanding manner. Furthermore, the faculty elaborated another form to take care of their own students: the “SOPPE” program, which means, in Portuguese, “psyco-pedagogical orientation service”. Basically, students are referred to a psychologist, receiving appropriate support from an expert, a strategy that has proved to be very effective.

On balance, it is clear, therefore, that promoting a welcoming environment for the students, with the aim of making them realise how critical and valuable it is to maintain their mental health, are always searching for various forms of assistance while being sympathetic to other students. In fact, developing this consciousness may be the golden rule not only to encourage better engagement, but also to empower us, the future health professionals.

About the author

Letícia Nunes Campos, 18 years old, Brazilian, medicine student from the “Universidade de Pernambuco”, admitted in IFMSA Brazil since April of 2017. Currently a member of the SCOME team and works as LOME in the Local Committee.

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