Against the backdrop of a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) drawing attention on depression being a growing, hidden epidemic in medical students, Mumbai medical colleges say early diagnosis of depression is the key to bring such cases down.
Dr TP Lahane, dean of Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, said, “We have a teacher dedicated to 20 medical students. Every week they have a meet wherein topics unrelated to academics are discussed. This platform helps them to connect with each student and understand their problems. If signs of depression are noticed, then students are counselled.”
Medical colleges in Mumbai are known to have a stressful working atmosphere because of huge footfall. “Stress is integral part of all medical students. We have designed co-curricular activities and mentoring sessions to de-stress them. We have a dedicated mentoring cell to gauge early signs of depression so that they can be counselled,” said Dr Avinash Supe, dean of KEM Hospital and director of major civic hospitals in Mumbai.
The JAMA study said 275 of medical students across the world are depressed and on the basis of data from 24 cross-sectional studies from 15 countries, estimated overall prevalence of suicidal ideation was 11.1% and it ranged from 7.4% to 24.2%.
Talking about why depression in medical students remains a cause of worry, Dr Sagar Mundada, chairman of Maharashtra’s Indian Medical Association (Youth Wing) said there are many factors that lead to stress and depression among medical students.
“All over world, many studies have shown almost one-fourth of medical students suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Extreme levels of competition and expectations, tough post graduate entrance exam with very few seats, inadequate counselling forums for them to vent out their feelings, very long course of study which sometimes leads to comparison with other professional colleagues and a sense of negativism , are few reasons behind rising number of depression cases in medical students,” said Mundada.
He added that a proper structured portal to counsel and teaching better coping techniques can help in bringing down this trend.