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June 27, 2017
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On average, the United States loses one physician per day to suicide, and this includes many physicians in training, usually within the first year. The pressure of medical school is extremely tough because of the grueling hours, fierce competition, and huge workload. One of the most stressful aspects of medical school is getting good grades. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, one out of three students feel anxious about their grades, and one in four admit to having feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.

The Stigma of Mental Health Disorders

In addition, 28% of medical school students have had a major depressive episode during training and most of these students do not seek mental health care. Why? Because of the fear of being labelled or that it will affect their ability to practice medicine. However, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires that medical schools and programs provide confidential counseling for anyone who needs it. Medical students need to know this. The stigma of mental health disorders among medical students has created a population that doesn’t know how to ask for help. Many feel like they are the only ones with this problem because everyone else seems so “normal” and “happy,” but they do not realize that more than 30% of their classmates feel the same way they do.


Find Someone to Talk to

One way to get help is to talk to others that have the same problem in a group chat or forum such as the ones on the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) website and Facebook pages. You may find that there are many others even those in your circle of friends, who need help as much, if not more than you do. Helping others is a good way to help yourself, as well, so joining a forum or group chat is therapeutic for all of those involved. If you would rather talk to a licensed professional, there are online platforms offering counseling services from accredited mental health professionals. The best part is that you don’t have to make an appointment and you can message them anytime, day or night. Also, you can remain anonymous if you want to.


Support Groups and Study Groups

Another way to get some help is to join a support group online or in your area. Some schools have support groups right there on campus that you can join. Talking about your feelings on grades, studying, and other topics may help you find others in your area to study with. A study group or study buddy is one of the best ways to boost your grades and a way to cope with your anxiety issues.

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