As medical students, we are trained on how to take care of a patient’s mental health; however, all too often we overlook taking care of our own. Some students may feel that prioritizing mental health shows weakness in a world where we are expected to seem “perfect.” As students, we strive to build our resumes with volunteering, leadership positions, letters of recommendation, and research publications. That feeling of always needing to do more for residency applications can become incredibly overwhelming.
Over time, hiding the realities of unforeseeable setbacks is what I believe has driven medical students to report being three times more likely to have symptoms of depression compared to peers of the same age working outside of medicine. In order to combat this statistic, I believe we need to start destigmatizing talking about our own mental health in medical school.
After experiencing a horrible mental health support system at my university, I decided to look into different ways I can keep track of my mindset while tackling the hardships of medical school. Through a close friend and the support of the American Medical School Association (AMSA), I learned about BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online therapy resource that matches you with a licensed professional therapist. Before you ask—no, I am not sponsored by BetterHelp, but I have become a HUGE FAN!
By signing up for therapy through AMSA, medical students who are AMSA members get one month free followed by a monthly discounted rate. Aside from my tuition, prioritizing my mental health with BetterHelp has become my greatest investment in medical school.
I loved the therapist matching process because they ask you detailed questions, such as “do you want someone to just listen to you?” or “do you want a therapist that is going to talk you through advice?” Being from Wisconsin but currently living on a Caribbean island for medical school, they were able to match me with someone close to my hometown. (It has been so comforting to have someone who understands my Midwest references!) My therapist gives me challenges each week in order to maintain an optimistic mindset while striving to better myself each day.
The positive results I’ve experienced with online therapy has made me wonder just how much we could decrease the prevalence of depression in the medical field if the conversation of mental health was considered to be more acceptable.
Read more by Cidney.