World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day. Mental illness can affect anyone and as physicians and medical students, we are not immune. A recent review found that 27.2% of medical students worldwide reported symptoms of depression but only 15.7% sought psychiatric treatment.
According to the World Health Organization, building mental resilience is a way to cope with the challenges and pressures of a stressful environment, and can be an important strategy to help prevent and recover from mental illness. Mental resilience can include everything from understanding the signs and symptoms of mental illness to building life skills that will equip you to handle difficult situations. For more about mental resilience, visit the American Psychological Association’s Road to Resilience guide.
For medical students, understanding mental health is critical for your own personal health and the health of your future patients. Being able to discuss stresses and challenges can provide a better picture of your patient’s overall health and wellbeing.
“We are entering into a field that will constantly test our mental strength and abilities in so many ways, and it's extremely important for us to be aware of ourselves and our mental health,” said 4th semester student Olivia Peralta. “If we are not mentally healthy, it's going to be difficult to take care of others who are physically, emotionally, or mentally unhealthy.”
For Peralta, mental health has become an increasingly interesting topic. Last semester, she founded the Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN), which brings together students interested in the field of adult neurology. She sees mental health as a significant part of that field, and even organized an unofficial mental health awareness week on campus last spring.
To commemorate World Mental Health Day, she and SIGN partnered with the St. Maarten Mental Health Foundation to host an addiction awareness event for teenagers and young adults. The event ran throughout the afternoon and focused on raising awareness of mental illness and connecting youth with local resources.
“I want to help medical students and the community understand how clinically important mental health is to our patients and well-being,” said Peralta. “It’s never something to be ashamed about and it’s not something that you need to ‘push through’ alone.”
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or mental illness, AUC has resources to support you. You can visit the Wellness Counseling Center or schedule an appointment with one of our wellness counselors by emailing [email protected].
 Rotenstein LS, Ramos MA, Torre M, et al. Prevalence of Depression, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicidal Ideation Among Medical StudentsA Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(21):2214–2236. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17324