Rise in student mental health reports
4 February 2013
The GMC has seen a large increase in students reporting mental health issues when they apply for provisional registration after finishing medical school.
A report by the regulator revealed a rise of more than 50 per cent in mental health issues among the 7,182 UK graduates who applied for provisional registration. The increase is from 39 students in 2011 to 62 in 2012.
There was also a smaller increase in physical issues reported, from 40 to 52, although the overall number of applicants with identified fitness-to-practise issues was down, from 9.6 per cent in 2011 to 7.6 per cent in 2012.
The report to the GMC undergraduate board highlights the rise in the mental health subcategory.
It states: ‘In particular, this year has seen an increase in the number of students reporting mental health concerns when they register.
‘Work on providing medical schools with guidance on what they can do to best support their students with mental health issues is under way.
‘This work also focuses on the transition between medical school and the foundation programme, with the aim of better supporting students at this crucial stage in their training.’
BMA medical students committee joint deputy chair Matthew Hale said it was difficult to say whether the incidence of mental and physical health conditions among medical students had increased or whether more students were disclosing illness.
He said: ‘Many medical students and doctors, like everyone else in the population, will suffer from mental health conditions at some point during their careers, and I think it is a very positive step for the medical profession that people feel more able to discuss and be open about this and any help that they might need.’
Mr Hale stressed that the GMC was working with the association, the Medical Schools Council and other stakeholders to provide good practice guidance and ensure students with mental health conditions were treated fairly and supported appropriately.
He said: ‘Much of the work that this group conducts will focus on alleviating concerns that students have regarding asking for help from medical schools, be it for physical or mental health conditions, and ensuring it would never be disadvantageous for students to ask for help.’
London survey launches next year
Concerns over mental health have led to plans for a London-wide survey of up to 10,000 medical students.
The United Hospitals Medgroup, comprising student representatives from all five London medical schools, is hoping to launch the survey next academic year.
Medgroup co-chair Luke Turner said he wanted to focus on student attitudes to mental health issues among peers, and said there were particular fears and anxieties about probity and fitness to practise.
The St George’s University of London final year said: ‘Students are terrified that if they admit to mental health problems they will be deemed not fit to practise, and will have their student contracts terminated. This is just not the case.’