Responding to plans to further “join up” student mental health services1, Khadija Meghrawi and Lara Akinnawonu, BMA medical students committee co-chairs, said:
"Poor student mental health is becoming a crisis, and many of our peers have truly suffered as a result of more and more funding cuts to wellbeing and counselling services across recent years. The BMA medical students committee has been calling for reforms to the approach to student wellbeing for a number of years.
“Going to university is a huge life shift and the combination of moving away from home, loneliness, academic pressure and financial difficulties can all take their toll on students’ mental health and wellbeing. Covid-19 has also had a lasting impact on all, including the very same medical students who played a crucial role in the pandemic response.
“We are therefore relieved by this more targeted approach to student mental healthcare, as we know it is not always easy for students to get the help they need, especially in times of acute pressure or lowness.
“We hope that these initiatives are just the beginning of a more concerted effort to improve student mental health.
“However, as doctors of the future, we know that prevention is better than cure. While access to treatment is important, we also need to tackle the underlying causes and stressors that can contribute to poor mental health. For medical students, this includes providing adequate financial support so that the brightest students from all backgrounds can afford to study medicine, tackling discrimination in medical schools and improving communication and removing uncertainty as students make their way through training.
“Medical students also need to be able to access mental health support while on clinical placement – something that has been raised as a problem in a recent survey we undertook, the results of which we will be publishing soon.
“The very existence of the NHS in the future relies on the medical students studying today. Only by protecting their health and wellbeing now can we ensure they can flourish and become the best doctors they can be – and crucially can provide the high-quality care that patients need in the long-term.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- Please contact the Department of Health and Social Care for details.