One in three medics experience mental health problems

The pressure of studying medicine has hit an all time high


A staggering third of all medical students have experienced mental health problems during their studies, according to new research.

What’s more, one in seven medics have considered suicide, according to the survey of over 1000 medical students.

The research, conducted by the journal Student BMJ, also found 80 per cent of those who had mental health problems found the help available from their uni was either poor or only “moderately adequate”.

Medicine is considered to be one of the most demanding and stressful subjects, but this research means it may also be the worst for mental wellbeing.

Medics might seem like they're party animals, but a third may have experienced mental problems

Medics might seem like they’re party animals, but a third may have experienced mental health issues

A British Medical Association student welfare spokesman admitted the findings were “shocking”, while the Medical Schools Council (MSC) said it was “crucial” students with concerns about their health felt confident enough to ask for help.

Matthew Billingley, editor of Student BMJ, agreed that medicine had a reputation as one of the most intensive degrees.

In a statement, he said: “Only six in 10 applicants manage to get a place at medical school, and students often have a relentless timetable of exams as well as having to balance the emotional strain of seeing sick patients and uphold high professional standards.”

Medics have a reputation for partying hard, and the survey confirmed this – finding one in four “binge drink” every week – compared to 18 per cent of all 16 to 24-year-olds.

And more than one in 10 said they had taken class A, B or C drugs at least once.

More than eight per cent had taken a legal high, and the same number had used study drugs to help with revision ahead of exams.

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Medicine is one of the most difficult courses, which can lead to more stress

30 per cent said they had experienced or received treatment for a mental health condition while at medical school, and 15 per cent said they had considered committing suicide during their studies.

Respondents to the survey also reported that an over-competitive environment could have a negative effect on students’ health.

One respondent said: “The stigma with mental health issues especially comes into focus when exposed to consultants and tutors who refer to it as a weakness.”

Another said many medical students suffered with “depression, self-esteem issues and a number of other problems.

They added: “I am stunned by the amount who take prescription medicine during exam time.:

Twishaa Sheth, chair of the BMA’s student’s welfare committee said: “The number of students reporting mental illness or considering suicide is shocking.

“What is more concerning is the lack of independent support available for students.”

Iain Cameron, chair of the MSC, says “Medical schools take the mental wellbeing of their students seriously. The Student BMJ survey highlights key issues and similar concerns have been raised previously.

“It is crucial that students who have concerns about their health are able to make this known so that they can be provided with the necessary advice and support.”