Mental Health of Medical Students

Research-Backed Ways to Improve Mental Health of Medical Students

Life of a student is tough and if you are a medical school student it can be damn stressful. Dealing a lot of academic pressure along with meeting the demands of the clinical environment can lead to burn out and stress.

Taking good care of your physical and mental health will help you become a successful medical student. Whether you have just started your medical school journey or are still working on your medical school application to gain the spot, it is important to learn how to take care of your mental health. Understanding how to deal with stress and developing some healthy habits will help you survive in medical school.

A survey conducted by National Survey of College Counseling Centers suggests that approximately 52% of students faced anxiety, depression and severe psychological problems. Another study shows that only 12% of students discussed problems with a mental health professional and had sought help at the school’s counseling center.

Students should learn how to deal with stress, anxiety and other mental health problems. They are encouraged to seek counseling and treatment at campus counseling centers to address mental health crises. Here are some easy tips for medical students to improve their mental health and develop health habits.

  • Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a very effective way to improve emotional wellbeing. Many studies have shown that mindfulness is an effective stress reduction technique that can promote overall happiness. Basically, mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment and accept the situation.

Many psychotherapists suggest mindfulness meditation as the key element in the treatment of several mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder – to name a few. Since medical school is demanding, practicing mindful meditation can help you maintain your focus during studying and become more productive academically.

  • Seek Professional Help

Whether you are feeling lonely, burnout or dealing with any other emotional difficulty, seeking help or finding a support system is important to maintain your emotional wellbeing. Since medical students are at greater risk of psychological health issues compared to the rest of the population, taking care of medical students is critically important. Unfortunately, medical students are less likely to seek professional help.

Many medical students are reluctant to discuss their psychological issues and declare their disabilities. The fear of becoming stigmatized prevents them from reaching out for campus-based support. They informally consult their friends and family and don’t seek professional help. Many medical schools provide mental health services and offer confidential psychological care. Students are encouraged to reach out to their academic counselors to find reliable psychiatric care and address their mental health issues.

  • Identify Stressful Situations

The medical curriculum is one of the major causes of psychological illness and mental health issues among medical students. The pressure of learning complex medical terminologies and a lot of coursework in a short amount of time are the leading causes of stress. Furthermore, frequent relocations and adjusting in the continuously changing learning environment during clinical clerkship contribute to higher levels of academic pressure and mental stress. Identifying situations that keep you upset and trying to figure out how to control your emotions and thoughts can help you meet the demands of medical school.

  • Use Meditation and Mindfulness Apps

One of the best ways to live a mentally healthier life during medical school, clinical clerkship and residency training is to use mindfulness and meditation apps. Fortunately, there are a number of useful apps available that allow you to practice healthy meditation and mindfulness. Using these apps will help you feel emotionally strong and improve your mental health. Here is a list of mindfulness and meditation apps for medical students:

o   Headspace

o   Mo

o   Calm

 

  • Use Yoga to Improve Your Mental Health

It has been scientifically proven that yoga can reduce psychological and sleep problems among students. Practicing yoga will improve your mental health, make you feel happier, improve your mood, and ease depression. A survey suggests yoga can help students deal with stress, anxiety and other mental health problems.

Basically, doing yoga is good for improving your cognitive skills, sharpening your memory, improving focus and concentration. During medical school, students need to learn a lot of complex physiological processes and terminologies. Yoga will help you improve your learning ability, which will eventually have a positive effect on your academic performance.

  • Start Journaling

Believe it or not, journaling is a brain boosting activity that can improve your mood. Whether you are a preclinical student, dealing with immense academic pressure or in the transition phase, trying to adjust in the changing clinical environment, journaling is a very good activity, especially for your mental health.

Journaling is basically the activity to note down your personal thoughts, feelings, and everyday routine. Whether it’s a hectic day in a pediatric ward or you need to attend back to back lectures, writing about your feelings will help with emotional healing. Writing about your emotions will act as a therapy that has a positive effect on your overall emotional wellbeing and improves your mood.

Do Your Favorite Activity

Medical students can improve their mental health by doing their favorite activity. If you actively engage in activities you like most, you can feel happier and improve your mood. Though it seems challenging to set aside time for your favorite activity, doing so is good for your mental health. Whether you like to spend quiet time alone, hanging out with friends, eating with others, playing sports, or dedicating time to engage in these pleasurable activities can significantly reduce stress levels.

A survey suggests that engaging in your creative activities can improve your mood, increase focus and sense of emotional wellbeing. So, participate in activities you enjoy most to reduce depression, anxiety and other psychological problems.

Final Thoughts

From assignments, class quizzes to USMLE prep and clinical rotations, the medical school journey is challenging. Due to rigorous academic load and tough routine, many medical students face many mental health issues. With careful planning and following some healthy tips, you can cope well with stress of medical school and maintain an optimal academic performance in medical school.

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