Mental health matters

There is no denying that the pandemic has been a turbulent time for medical students, with pressures of longer hours, higher expectations and heightened risk of contracting Covid-19. It’s only natural that there will be times when students feel deflated. We spoke to MedSoc Support’s Ellie Reid and Jahnavi Kavala to find out how, thanks to funding from Cascade, they supported one another during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Illustration by fourth year medical student Nhi Dang

MedSoc Support is a student run, confidential and non-judgemental listening support service for medical students. Thanks to funding from Cascade, these students have worked together to put protective measures in place for their peers’ mental health.

They run an active social media account offering tips and advice to students, talks on relevant topics, a Support Sundays podcast and arrange in-person events to benefit their medical community. Commenting on the service, Coordinator and sixth year Medical student Ellie said, “We host ‘tea & chat’ mornings and afternoons in the Medical school to give early year students the chance to speak to older years and ask any questions they might have.” The main goal they all share is improving the mental health and wellbeing of students from every year group.

Ellie continues to explain that their future goals include expanding on the work they’ve already been doing, “We will continue to target stressful periods in each year-group, as we have found this to be the most useful. We will make use of our supporter’s networks to deliver talks to earlier years regarding placement and dissection. We want to expand our ‘tea & chats’ to make them a regular event, as well as putting a specific emphasis on first years. We are also starting to plan how we are going to support our peers during exam season, as sitting your first in-person exam can be daunting.”

Medical students are often at a higher risk of mental health concerns than their non-medical peers. However, they are much less likely to seek support. MedSoc Support is challenging stigmas surrounding mental health to try and ensure that mental unwellness is regarded as equal to a physical condition.

There are all sorts of things that this group of students are doing to protect both themselves and their peers which include hot chocolate morning, welfare talks, yoga sessions, workshops and a night-time helpline. All led by diligent volunteers. Jahnavi continues: “No one should have to struggle alone – medicine’s hard enough as it is. But when you’re struggling it’s sometimes difficult to know who to talk to. That’s why we’re here. We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to help everyone but if we can’t, we’ll point you in the direction to someone who can.”

Donations to Cascade have been crucial to the development of MedSoc Support. Both Jahnavi and Ellie expressed how appreciative the students are of the Cascade grant, which has greatly expanded what is possible through MedSoc.

Thank you to everyone who has helped our medical students to support each other through this initiative.

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