Medical students are at risk of psychological distress
- By: Rebecca Copplestone, Trevor Thompson
University can be a challenging time. As medical students we can feel pressure to uphold new responsibilities and to act appropriately, not just in the presence of patients, but also in our free time.1 Many people find the amount of learning and the regular assessments that are required to be stressful.
The competitive nature of medical students accentuates these pressures. Learning to become a doctor presents students with emotionally challenging and often upsetting experiences: students will encounter death, disability, and ethical dilemmas, often for the first time. It is therefore not surprising that in these stressful circumstances depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol misuse are common.2
Some studies have estimated that as many as three in 10 students have mental health conditions in need of treatment,3 and that 21-44% are psychologically distressed.24 What are the implications for medical students who experience stress and mental health disorders? And what action is