A first aid approach to poor mental health

Poor mental health among students at the Faculty of Medicine has increased. The faculty wants to change that. Linnea Sandström, former president of the medical students’ union, lists five methods used to improve mental health among young people.

Five measures to increase awareness of, and preparedness for, poor mental health

  1. “First aid for poor mental health” is introduced and will become a new element on first- and second-cycle study programmes. The concept is the same as for CPR training, but since there is in fact a greater risk of encountering someone in a poor mental state than someone suffering from cardiac arrest, this training is important.
  2. The stigma of poor mental health decreases when people talk about it. A focus day on mental ill health among young people was introduced for the first time in the spring. It is important to schedule the day early on in the programmes and to tailor it with lectures by people who work professionally with mental health problems.
  3. Give students concrete tools for dealing with someone in a poor mental state. Here are some tips: Be intrusive – the person in question will talk if you insist, but most people don’t. Listen – daring to listen can be difficult and scary but doing something is better than doing nothing. Bring food – in a crisis, sharing a bite to eat can normalise and defuse the situation. Seek professional help – help is available on many different levels, and there are also 24-hour hotlines to the student chaplains and healthcare services.
  4. Due to the high workload of the Student Health Centre, the students’ union has suggested that the Faculty of Medicine recruit a counsellor to serve as a complement to the study advisors.
  5. Adapt the study programmes to enable students to go on part-time sick leave. This is practically impossible in today’s system.

TEXT & PHOTO: ÅSA HANSDOTTER