The pressures and demands of medical school can take a toll on students’ mental health. News about young and promising doctors-in-training taking their own lives is becoming all too common. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, med students have rates of depression 15 to 30 percent higher than the general population.
But one part of medical school culture has been especially hard to overcome: the stigma of mental illness. When they need help most, medical students in anguish rarely reach out. Students attribute this reluctance to seek care to fear of stigmatization by peers and to concerns over professional ramifications, particularly during applications for residency and licensing.
For Morris, who had his own bout of depression while in medical school, more training and education is needed to help doctors and students recognize risk factors in themselves and their peers and encourage them to speak up and get support. “Medical students spend their days learning how to help others. Can we learn to care for them, too?,” he asks.
Previously: Using arts and communication to help physicians improve health, avoid suicide, An Rx for physician burnout, Keeping an even keel: Stanford surgery residents learn to balance work and life and A call to action to improve balance and reduce stress in the lives of resident physicians
Photo by Li Yang