Why Are University Students Generally So Vulnerable?

Many have moved away from the comforts of their homes for the first time. Living independently is a steep learning curve. This is even more so for international students who have moved continents in order to study their course. More accountability to oneself and to their lives.

Self-learning replaces teacher-initiated learning as the mode of instruction. For many people heading to university or medical school, this is a significant shift.

Investigating their identity and place in the world. This is a trip, and communication with others and the outside world is essential to the journey.

Some medical students have additional obligations or responsibilities, such as taking care of family members or serving as parents or guardians. Managing both worlds, including your own health, can be difficult, and for many people, it has made it impossible to even apply to study for a degree.

Students in their second and third years are the most vulnerable.

What Different Factors Can Affect Medical Student’s Mental Health?

For a variety of reasons, medical students constitute a specialised subset of students. When compared to other university students, these variables might have an impact on or perhaps raise their chance of experiencing mental health issues.

Compared to other undergraduate courses, which typically last two to three years, medical degree programmes require a minimum of five years of study. This frequently implies that medical students can find it more difficult to fit in with their peers.

The term times frequently do not coincide with the remainder of the academic year.

They are exposed to the outside world too soon and too quickly. During their clinical rotations, medical students are exposed to a wide range of challenges that their classmates in other fields may never encounter. From the working environment of a bustling clinical facility, mortality, cancer, and being around palliative patients. We are aware that the latter has its own drawbacks.

Compared to their counterparts, medical students have less financial stability. Medical students were polled by the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, and the results are startling. Over 50% of students must work to pay for their education, and nearly 70% of students reported having unanticipated financial expenditures when they first started medical school. A significant proportion of students—nearly 3/4—believe that having financial help from their parents or guardians negatively impacts their emotional well-being.

The medical community as a whole greatly stigmatises seeking mental health treatment. Regrettably, there is a similar issue among medical students. According to a BMJ survey, at least one-third of medical students have mental health issues. The majority of people who sought assistance thought the assistance was insufficient or of low quality.

The Need To Be Dynamic – Embracing Even More Virtual Learning

Studying medicine was unusual because of the wide range of learning venues. From the busy, crowded wards to the cosy small-group facilitation. Students, who already experience increased isolation from living alone, are the subject of grave worries. Disengagement among students is more likely. There is no longer as much of a facilitator’s keen eye to spot clues or indications of the challenges a learner is facing.

According to a recent survey conducted by Choi, B. et al. (2020), the qualifying medical doctors of 2020 felt far less prepared. Many students have encountered circumstances when they felt compelled to complete assignments that were beyond their areas of expertise. All NHS trusts are encouraged to abide by the supportive guidelines established by the Medical Schools Council. This is to safeguard medical students and provide them with the self-assurance to confront these circumstances.

Increase In Mental Health Problems

An study conducted on medical students in India revealed a rise in mental health issues, specifically anxiety and despair. Although these worries are shared in the UK.

Tips For Mental Wellbeing

It is critical that medical students feel supported by their peers during this uncertain time. They shouldn’t worry about getting mental health assistance. To be able to carry out their responsibilities in a sustainable manner, they must have good mental health. Beyond this, the secret is to have a rewarding profession and a satisfying life.

A fantastic list of suggestions has been put together by Student Minds, and the NHS website.

Stick To A Routine

Arlinghaus and Johnston’s excellent work from 2019 outlines the research supporting the connection between routines and improved mental health. They are all very beneficial, from determining the best time to wake up and go to sleep to getting dressed and sitting down with your laptop open to begin online learning.

Look After Your Physical Health

When you don’t feel like taking care of your physical health, it can be challenging to do so mentally. But it’s scientifically proved that making the time to do this may be really fulfilling. More information about this is provided in this article by the Mental Health Foundation. Some things to think about are:

Consuming your “5 a day” of food will provide your body with the proper nourishment. You will feel and look better about yourself as a result of this.

A lot of people get nervous about it. Becoming fit does not equate to training for the London Marathon. Any strenuous physical exercise, such as a quick jog through your neighbourhood park or a brisk stroll to your job. The NHS website has more information on this topic.

Stay Present – Mindfulness

Medical students are a cohort of people who have always been running. In the direction of their dreams and towards the next obstacle or objective. It’s challenging to pause and be present as a result! To remind yourself of the good things in your life each day, try focusing on your breathing, feeling the earth beneath your feet, or keeping a gratitude diary. There’s evidence that these support mental health maintenance!

This can be as easy as shutting down your laptop and taking short walks to break up your study sessions. Recall your five senses: taste, smell, taste, feel, and hear.

Connect With something You Love

All of us, even the medical students, feel overburdened. It can be challenging to pick up a new pastime or even an old one that used to bring you great satisfaction.

There is strong evidence that devoting even 30 minutes a day to activities that divert your attention from your everyday grind can enhance wellness.

Know Where To Seek Help From

Recognise the support system that consists of your university and medical school. Do not be afraid to ask for help; most facilitators and teaching staff will be happy to assist you. Recognising the typical signs of a struggling medical student is more challenging.

The GMC offers exceptional support to medical students who may experience mental health issues. Their pamphlet, which I believe every student ought to have access to, provides a summary of their advice and suggestions for helping medical students with mental health issues. Not only do they reassure students that they would be there for them no matter what, they also offer support in the case that discrimination occurs. For the latter, they will not tolerate it at all!

A study conducted at the University of Cambridge discovered that early access to intervention can significantly enhance medical students’ functioning and outcomes as they pursue careers as doctors. They hope other medical schools will take note of their study and follow suit.

Whether it involves difficulties with your workload, job placements, mental well-being, or anything else. If you just remember one thing from this, it would be to talk to someone.

Where Can Medical Students Get Help From For Their Mental Health?

If you are struggling with your mental health you should consult with your registered GP or 111 outside of GP surgery opening times.

Take Home Message

You’re not by yourself. Problems with mental health are more prevalent than ever. Live without fear or shame. You’ve read that you will heal more quickly if you get assistance as soon as possible.

Please keep in touch with friends and family of medical students who are worried about their mental health. Should you be extremely concerned about them, you can also get in touch with us.