37,000 medical students tell government they are suffering from mental ailments

  • The National Medical Commission (NMC) has formed a committee to discuss the alarming issue and draft recommendations.

Priyanka Sharma
Updated12 May 2024, 03:37 PM IST
The issue assumes importance given that 130 medical students committed suicide in the last five years.
The issue assumes importance given that 130 medical students committed suicide in the last five years.

New Delhi: A staggering 37,000 medical students have told the goverment's medical education authority that they are suffering from potentially risky mental health ailments, alarming the body into prescribing a phalanx of measure including regulated duty hours and suicide watch.  

A psychiatrist at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi described the shocking figures as “the tip of the iceberg.”

The National Medical Commission had launched an online survey after finding that 130 medical students had taken their lives in the last five years. In the survey, medical students and faculty submitted details about the mental health illnesses they were suffering from—ranging from crippling anxiety and work pressure to overwhelming stress.

Concerned over the number of students suffering from mental illness, the NMC formed a 15-member committee to discuss the issue and draft recommendations.

Suggestions made by the NMC following the overwhelming response to the online survey include gate-keeper programmes to prevent suicide and for identifying vulnerable students, regulating duty hours for post-grad students, better student facilities, friendlier work environment, and round-the clock professional counselling services.

For national rollout

These recommendations will be submitted to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry this month to be rolled out across medical colleges in the country.

Also read | ‘Students without Biology in Class 12 can still become doctors’: NMC guidelines

“Some of the universal recommendations which are in discussion includes- adjustment support and orientation in medical colleges for new students to understand their role & duties; facilities in the college; ways to cope up with home sickness; awareness campaigns, celebration of world mental health day, world suicide prevention day and drug prevention day; anti-ragging measures will be strengthened; regulations of duty hours for medical PG students not more than 80 hours a week which is being followed internationally. Currently, PG students are working as much as 100 hours a week without any break,” said a government official requesting anonymity.

Addressing concerns

“In addition to it, plans are also in discussion to address concerns of the teachers; strengthening of mentor-mentoring programme. A new initiative—gate-keepers programme—will start to prevent suicide and identify vulnerable students and exclusive 24x7 professionals counselling services will commence to counsel students via government’s tele-manas portal,” said the official adding that adding that efforts are being made to make the work environment student-friendly for medical students.

Also read |  NMC ban on southern states adding medical colleges defies logic

The online survey on mental health issues was divided into four parts in which graduate, post-grad and faculty participated.

“We have received more than 37,000 applications from medical students and faculty which itself indicates that doctors are suffering from mental stress. Most of the students face problems in hostels, and during ragging, which we are streamlining. Our education system for primary and secondary classes are reformed, but there is no work regulation for higher education. For PG students, we have directed states to relax seat leaving bond policy of the state government,” said the second official on the condition of anonymity.

Stigma deters

“Every hospital has psychiatric division, but due to stigma students do not report. If a student is under stress whom he will inform first whether peers or else faculty. Strengthening of anti-ragging and anti-sexual harassment measures. In the last 130 medical students have committed suicide equally both in UG and PG classes. This means—25-26 students take their lives every year,” added the official.

The committee is devising regulations by evaluating analyzing survey results.

Also read | NMC brings out new rules for medical colleges

“This is just tip of iceberg. The numbers of doctors suffering from mental health illnesses could be much higher. The data itself says that around 70% of doctors feel burnout. They feel lack of interest going to the workplace, lack of pleasure, lack of motivation and lack of communication among the medical community and acceptability is very poor,” said Dr Nand Kumar, professor of psychiatric department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

Queries sent to the union health ministry spokesperson remained unanswered till press time.



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First Published:12 May 2024, 03:37 PM IST
HomeNewsIndia37,000 medical students tell government they are suffering from mental ailments

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