Service shows how to take care of our future doctors | Research news

Service shows how to take care of our future doctors

Pictured: The Clinical Student Mental Health Service team on a recent video call. 
Left to right (row 1) Dr Zoe Martin, Dr Rebecca Jacob, Ms Christabella Amiteye
(row 2) Dr Amanda Burren, Ms Sharon Li, Dr Clare Drea.

A review of a pioneering service provided by CPFT has shown it is effectively tackling medical students’ mental health needs.

There is growing recognition of emotional difficulties, mental illness and suicidal thoughts experienced by Higher Education students, particularly medical students.

This group is especially vulnerable and less likely to access care due to fear of stigma, worries about career progression and attitudes of teachers, peers and future colleagues, compounded by academic pressures.

To address this unmet need and help medical students manage mental health issues, CPFT worked with the School of Clinical Medicine and the University of Cambridge to develop the Clinical Student Mental Health Service (CSMHS). Students were also involved in designing and developing the service.

The team have now published their recent service evaluation in the BMC Medical Education journal.
It shares some promising findings that could help other providers offer targeted mental health support for medical students across the UK.

CPFT consultant liaison psychiatrist and service lead, Dr Rebecca Jacob said: “We set up the service to respond to high levels of mental distress reported by medical students.

"Our evaluation found that providing a customised mental health service allowing direct referrals from primary care, can efficiently identify and care for them. Data from repeated assessments and qualitative feedback indicates students welcomed the service and found it was effective.

“We are hopeful that early intervention will address their current difficulties and also, in the long term, support their work as doctors of the future.”

The service has seen 229 students referred between 2015 and 2020, improving access to a range of psychological therapies. Service users have benefited from timely specialist mental health support, showing improvements in mental wellbeing and improved functioning.

One student service user commented: "The CSMHS team made me feel supported, more in control and hopeful for my future. Mental health diseases are the leading conditions responsible for loss of earning and qualification. To prevent this, help needs to be delivered promptly and intensively. 

"For me, this only happened because I could turn to the service. I’m completely convinced that were it not for the wonderful people working in and leading CSMHS, I would not be here, let alone working as a doctor."

Read the full article – ‘Taking care of our future doctors: a service evaluation of a medical student mental health service’ via BMC Medical Education journal Open Access online.

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