Wellbeing Officer's Message

Dear ANU Medical School Community,

The ANU Medical Students’ Society (ANUMSS) believes that student health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance. Studying medicine is challenging. It involves a complex balancing act of juggling study, part time work, relocating and adjusting to a new city, making new friends and alterations to existing personal relationships. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the change and it can be easy to forget to look after yourself.

In 2010 the ANU Medical Students’ Society created the Wellbeing Officer position and the Wellbeing Handbook as part of an ANUMSS initiative designed to combat the increased rates of depression, anxiety and stress-related health problems seen among medical students and to ensure medical students prioritise their own mental and physical wellbeing.

The 2013 Beyond Blue study of Australian doctors and medical students had some particularly striking findings:

  • 43% of medical students have a high likelihood of experiencing a minor psychiatric disorder and 9.2% have very high levels of psychological distress. The general mean score for high psych distress is 2.6%
  • 19.2%, including 31.8% of indigenous medical students, have had suicidal thoughts in the past year
  • 21.3% are moderate risk drinkers while a further 4% are high risk drinkers
  • 52.3% experience emotional exhaustion

Medical students are often high achievers and have a fear of things that mental health issues may be deemed as a “weakness” or “failure” or may impact their future careers. Although these thoughts are common, they are certainly not founded, and it is far better to seek help early through one of the many available confidential services. Hopefully the Handbook can point you in the right direction to the supports and resources available in Canberra.

The Wellbeing handbook contains a compilation of GPs, psychologists and counsellors who are willing to see medical students either free of charge (bulk-billed), or at a significantly reduced cost. There are also some quick tips for maintaining your well being as well as a list of emergency contact numbers, entertainment options and non-medical activities to help you maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle whilst in med school.

At ANU, we want to strive to de-stigmatise mental health issues and to ensure that students maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Don’t forget that you are welcome to contact me at any time if you have any concerns or queries about your wellbeing and I‘m more than happy to assist you as best I can or redirect you down a more appropriate avenue. If you have a matter that you'd rather pass on anonymously you can send it via our anonymous wellbeing form. All the best with your studies for this year and throughout your time at the ANU Medical School!

Warm Regards,
Claire Allen
Wellbeing Officer, ANUMSS