Medical Students' Mental Health

There is an increase in both the amount and severity of mental health problems that students present with. Although University is often referred to as the best time of our lives it comes with many pressures and stresses. Below are some of the general signs to look out for regarding mental health issues which may be early signs particularly when a combination of signs occur together. 
Staff at the University have also put together the MSMH (Medical Students' Mental Health) website which tutors can refer students to, including those who are struggling with mental health issues, those who have suffered from such issues in the past and also for those who are interested in learning more about the subject. The website can also be used for students who are studying courses other than medicine as well as friends who are not at all connected to the University.
The GMC & MSC have now launched the new guidance on providing support to medical students who are experiencing mental health difficulties which can be located here.

What to look for:

There are a number of signs to look out for, and whilst they don’t necessarily mean that a student is experiencing mental ill-health, they may be early signals particularly when a combination of signs occur together:

  • Anxiety
  • Low attendance at classes / change from previous pattern
  • Failure to submit work / change from previous pattern
  • Lower grades than expected (or in comparison to previous years)
  • Withdrawal from social groups
  • Less interactivity in tutorials than previously
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Tearfulness
  • Physical signs such as cuts to wrists or unusually low energy
  • Bizarre behaviour or thoughts in conversations or e mails
  • Low or very high mood
  • Signs of excessive alcohol or drug use

    Staff at the University of Dundee have created the MSMH (Medical Students' Mental Health) website with information on those who need help, those who would like more information and as the website is outwith the University main site it can be shared with friends of students who are not studying medicine. 

But please remember mental health conditions are common in medical students and that support is available. In almost every case, a mental health condition does not prevent a student from completing his or her course and continuing a career in medicine.