When life looks bleak
Admitting you have a mental health problem can be traumatic for medical students. Despite these problems being common, stigma is still attached, which is why the medical student coauthor wants to remain anonymous. She and Laura Bennett give some practical advice about coping and seeking help
- By: Laura Bennett
Mental illness does not discriminate--it can affect anyone at any time. For doctors and medical students, prevalence is actually greater than among the general population.1–4 Up to 36% of doctors working in the NHS have symptoms of minor psychiatric disorder.1 Less research has been done for medical students, but one study in the 1980s found that 31.2% of second year UK clinical students were emotionally disturbed compared with 9.7% of unemployed young people,3 and this prevalence is confirmed by more recent research.4 Imagining, however, that “this will never happen to me” is all too easy. It might.
First and foremost the ill person is a person. They may be in distress or have unusual circumstances, but their main wish is probably to be honest about their illness and to be able to continue to function as much as they are able.
If someone tells you are unwell, then you probably