What is health?
Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Standardly to call a person healthy, all three criteria are looked at. But in our society, we give maximum weightage to physical and social ones.
Mental health is underestimated by our society even though it has a direct link with our body’s physical health and social behaviour.
Students, who are budding future of our society, have marked increment of mental health issues among them especially among the medical students. Our upcoming doctors are depressed, having anxiety issues, difficulty concentrating, having panic attacks, etc.
The question is; what are the reasons behind this ill mental health pandemic among medical students?
- Massive syllabus: if you will ask this question to any person related to the medical field, this will surely be the part of the answer “massive syllabus”. Compared to any other UG course, MBBS has a far vaster syllabus which we have to complete in five years. We don’t just have the pressure of completing within time but expectations of mastering them too. There are many subjects having sub-subject that just add on the pressure. This much syllabus generates immense pressure creating problems of anxiety, insomnia, and self-doubt.
- Repeated examinations: In many medical colleges, exams keep occurring every 15-20days in form of short tests or sessionals. There is a race going on, in which we all are running and running and we don’t know when have to stop. We all set some short post-examination dreams or targets that once this exam is completed I will give some time to my this or that hobby but then another timetable gets displayed in the departments.
- Unhealthy competition: Competition is increasing every day not just for professional exams but it continues to prepare for PG. To keep being part of the competition student’s compromise their sleep, their hobbies, fitness, eating habits, diet, and even their personal life, affecting their relations drastically. Many studies have shown that medical students are more at risk of sleep deprivation than non-medical students. And sleep deprivation has a great link with attention-related disorders and health problems. I remember during my first year, studying sleep cycle and related disorders while compromising my sleep.
Post-COVID issues: After COVID there is uncertainty that when exams are going to be held? How long the present session will be?
The duration of any session helps students to decide which sources, and what books they should select to prepare best in the given time.
Recently when COVID cases were at their peak and other courses exams were either going through online mode or were postponed, medical students were giving their exams. Every day 5-10 students were coming positive from the same hostel. There was immense pressure on students, first to prepare for exams and then to prevent themselves from being infected.
- Duration of MBBS course: Presently the duration of MBBS in India is five years, which is far more than any other UG course. Many of our non-medical friends get graduated before us and starts earning. This creates the condition of self-doubt among students about whether they did the right thing by taking the medical field or not. As many students suffer from financial issues.
All these points I highlighted are not complaints, they are issues that we are facing.
I remember when I was giving my first professional exams, one of my batch mates experienced convulsions and got admitted to a hospital. She wasn’t giving exams for the first time in her life but it was her first medical college exam. She said she felt a lot of pressure on her back, she wasn’t able to prepare well and can’t afford to fail as she had never failed any exam in her life.
Her condition got worse because she didn’t know how to manage her anxiety and panic rush. No one ever taught me how to handle all these issues while giving our best. This becomes very hard for students to manage such conditions without guidance.
Due to such problems as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mental exhaustion rate of dropping off college is increasing. Students who worked so hard to reach their dream colleges are dropping off them.
These problems aren’t any recent issue, we, medical students are suffering mentally for a long time ago and we need to discuss this now and take action. As in India, we already had less than one doctor for every 1000 people. In this situation, we can’t afford to risk the quality of the doctor due to emerging mental health issues.
What I think; is we need to have a guidance counselling community in our colleges that should teach us how to handle such issues. And regulate a safe and healthy environment in college to learn and study. And teach us to take our health seriously too.
Written By: Isha Dashore,
MBBS, 3rs Year, Bundelkhand Medical College, Sagour, M.P.