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Breaking the Stigma

Mental Health Among Male Medical Students

Today, we're diving into an important topic: mental health among male medical students.

We're all familiar with the concept that health professionals can serve as shining examples - you've likely noticed how dermatologists have the most radiant, glowing skin. They practice what they preach, and this, in turn, inspires the rest of us to take better care of our skin. Now, let's take a page from their book and consider the impact that we, as male medical students, can have on the larger community when it comes to mental health.

Cura te Ipsum is Latin for "Physician, heal thyself," but I think it's time to consider "Physician, support thyself"? It's high time we recognize the importance of reaching out for help when we need it and setting an example for others, especially men, to do the same. A dermatologist's flawless skin is proof of the benefits of a consistent skincare routine, and I hope that our willingness to prioritise our mental health can be inspirational for our peers and the wider public. It's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to seek help. It's okay to not be okay.

The stigma surrounding mental health has undoubtedly improved in recent years, but it can be better - especially when it comes to mental health amongst men. Society likes the phrase "man up" which teaches us that enduring in silence is what makes a person strong and brave; but in reality, it's just an open door to further struggle. Male medical students experience anxiety, stress, depression and so many more challenges, just like the rest of us. I'd like to encourage my peers to defy the expectations of society and choose that the phrase "man up" means to be brave enough to embrace their feelings and take care of their mental health.

The beauty of setting an example is that it creates a ripple effect, when I clean my bedroom, my younger sister does as well. So, when male medical students have the courage to ask for help, the rest of the male population are more likely to follow suit. I do acknowledge the traditional expectations placed upon men which act as an incredibly tough barrier to reach out for support (even when they know they want to). But by overcoming these stereotypes, we can take control of the narrative. I'd like to think that when men see their future health professional peers taking care of their mental well-being, not only will it signify that seeking help is acceptable, but also commendable.

In medical school, we're taught that our influence extends beyond the textbook. We're constantly told to behave professionally whether we're on placement or out on the street. When it comes to promoting health and well-being, we are the people that everyone looks to - so let's do our best to empower the people around us by empowering ourselves to reach out for help when we need it.

Image: Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

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