Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia

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Mental Healthcare for Medical Students

Throughout history, the stigma around mental health has prevented many from voicing out their mental health concerns. Medical students might also be susceptible to mental health disorders as a result of the interaction between environmental stressors and genetics.

As a medical student, here are some ways you can take care of your mental health:

1. Get Organised

It is possible for medical students to develop mood, anxiety and sleep disorders because of their inability to cope with day-to-day stressors related to medical education. Generally, people often get stressed when they perceive that they are not in control of their lives.

Medical students can lessen stress by planning out their daily routine which allows them to keep up-to-date with lectures and medical training. Simple tasks such as making your bed, doing laundry and tidying up your study table can help you feel organised and in control.

2. Dispute Irrational Thoughts

Albert Ellis, an American psychologist, suggests that humans often have irrational thoughts or beliefs that result in emotional and behavioural issues. He believes that it is not a situation that causes you to feel a certain way, but your perception of that situation that results in an emotional or behavioural response.

The next time you think you are not able to successfully become a medical professional, think again. Take time to reflect on your thoughts. Are they factual or are they just an irrational belief? You can write down the ABCDE model by Albert Ellis to dispute irrational thoughts and alter how you feel.

3. Seek Support

Medical school students rarely seek help[1] despite knowing they need it because of the stigma around mental illnesses. If you haven’t been feeling yourself recently, consult a school counsellor. If that is intimidating, talk to a trusted friend, parent or anyone in your social circle.

Seeking support is not limited to having a mental health issue. Medical students can form support groups to motivate each other and study groups to help each other academically.

4. Carve Out Time For Hobbies

Hobbies are crucial for good mental health because it helps us unwind from our routines. Medical students make time for hobbies that make them feel happier and more relaxed. Hobbies that are therapeutic such as hiking, fishing, writing, playing a musical instrument and gardening can positively reinforce good mental health. 

Doing the things that you love are not only relaxing but they can help boost creativity which correlates with an increase in a positive mood. Hobbies that involve more than one person may help with forming new relationships and social anxiety. 

Mental health matters and medical students should be able to talk about their mental health status without feeling guilt or shame. Just like a physical medical concern, mental health disorders should be diagnosed and treated by a professional. Medical students should break the stigma surrounding mental health as they may be are our medical experts in the near future.


[1] Estabrook K, Christianson H. Medical Student Healthcare Barriers and Solutions: Perspectives of Students. Academic Psychiatry. 2013;37(4):283

published on: 3 November 2020