Medical students have demanded an end to mental health cuts and an end to the stigma of patients with mental healthcare problems.
Manchester first year Charlotte Auty highlighted areas in which mental health patients got a poorer deal than patients with physical problems. She said these included the lack of maximum waiting times for treatment for mental health patients, which could reinforce the stigma surrounding their condition as ‘not a real illness at all’.
Fellow Manchester first year Emma Runswick pointed out that there were 50 million prescriptions for anti-depressants written every year, the mental health charity Mind was reporting increasing numbers of calls to its helpline, and other charities were being expected to provide psychological therapies because NHS waiting lists were so long.
The BMA annual medical students conference in London condemned the cuts and called on the GMC to help provide medical students with face-to-face contact with mental health patients to increase understanding and reduce the stigma surrounding their illnesses.
Students urged their BMA representatives to promote mental health awareness week at their medical schools.
They also asked the BMA to lobby the government to include mental health and well-being in the national curriculum to help reduce stigma and educate young people about their own mental health.
Hull York third year Sarah Fishwick said although the overarching national curriculum did talk about the need to promote mental health, implementation notes focused solely on maintaining physical health and well-being.
She insisted: ‘A healthy dialogue on mental health should be encouraged from a young age.’
Watch the webcast of the BMA medical students conference
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