A very important topic is that of mental health in medical practitioners, notably medical students. According to a study in the Student British Medical Journal, 30% of medical students report having a mental health condition — with a majority of 80% stating the level of available support was poor or only moderately adequate. This column was born from these alarming statistics and aims to stimulate conversation on mental health in medical students, from providing suggestions on how to maintain one’s mental health to discussing the taboo and stigma surrounding conversations on mental health in practitioners and students, and how to eliminate it.
It should be no surprise that when I asked my fellow medical students their suggestions for ways to de-stress, one of the first answers I heard from all of them was: “Yoga.” I should admit that I have always been a bit skeptical of yoga — I enjoyed cardio-based workouts far more. However, after doing some research, I found a study by Bansal et al. which found that medical students in India who did yoga every day for just one month showed significant improvements in both their general and mental wellbeing.
To me, hitting a tennis ball is a symbol of how we as medical students perceive mental health: we know very well what habits are good for us and which are not. We know that we need eight to nine hours of sleep each night, a healthy diet and regular exercise. We know to engage in positive thinking, to nurture healthy relationships while cutting out toxic ones and to take time to “take care of ourselves” even when we are at our most stressed.