Medicine & Mental Health
– Michelle Li (II)
At any given time, 20% of medical students will suffer from depression or anxiety. In the workplace, 75% of interns experienced burnout, whilst 73% met the criteria for psychiatric morbidity on at least one occasion.
We all know that the medical profession is a stressful one. But this does not, in any way, diminish the significance of mental illness in our cohorts. Sometimes we find it hard to study for exams, but others find themselves questioning their self-worth. Sometimes we find it hard living away from home, but others find themselves uprooted and with no emotional support. Sometimes we find the future daunting, but others find it bleak and closed and hopeless.
As part of Mental Health Week (7-13 October), MUMUS ran a fundraiser for Headspace, a national mental health foundation. This took place on Friday 12th October, where pre-clinical students spoke to their cohort between lectures about the prevalence of mental illness. Many wore green and even more donated to Headspace, with the fantastic end result of $404.85 being raised. Thank-you to all who donated and an ever greater thank-you to those who helped plan and run the event.
This has only been the first in many steps that must be taken to inform medical students that depression is more than a clinical illness–it can also be deeply personal. It can affect anybody, regardless of age, sex and even profession. As future doctors, we of all people should recognise that mental health should not be a stigma. We should understand that seeking help is not an act of weakness, but a sign of strength. We should learn that it’s okay to not be okay.
If you would like to find out more about mental illness, this video does a fantastic job of conveying what it feels like to be followed by the “black dog” of depression. You can also visit Headspace and Beyondblue.