News

12.06.2016

Medical and Nursing Students Host Depression Screening Event

Rates of depression are higher among medical students than in the general population, and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has made changing that a top priority. Medical student leaders worked with students from the School of Nursing and Health Studies to host a depression screening and information event at the Miller School this month.

“Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, yet the stigma around diagnosis and treatment is still very large,” said Christine M. Wilkins, a member of the M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2019 and president of the Mental Health Awareness Group. “Depression and suicide are endemic in the medical community.

“This event brings depression into the public consciousness and allows students to be screened and gather information about the behavioral health resources that UM offers.”

Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Associate Dean for Student Services, said it is essential to raise awareness about the importance of mental health issues and diagnoses in the graduate student population — particularly among medical students.

“The event helped us remind students of critical resources available for them to confidentially access behavioral health care if and when needed,” Mechaber said. “We need to constantly remind our students of the need to ask for help and to help them feel that they are part of a supportive and inclusive community.”

“Medical school is a pressure cooker,” Wilkins said. “I wanted my classmates to take a moment and reflect on their mental health.”

The opportunity to help those classmates inspired Wilkins to get involved in the Mental Health Awareness Group. “I’ve personally seen many friends and classmates struggle with mental illness, such as depression, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder,” she said. “I think it’s important to be an ally to them and let them know that they’re not alone.”

Students who did not attend the screening event, or anyone who wants to follow up on their own schedule, will find the information they need on the screening website.

“It has multiple screening options for various mental health issues,” Wilkins said, “as well as great referral information for those who screen positive.”

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