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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

NIMHANS study: Yoga helps healthcare students cope with stress

The research was conducted in two phases; phase one involved the development of the brief yoga module for wellbeing and in phase two, the developed yoga module was tested for its feasibility on postgraduate mental healthcare students from NIMHANS.

Written by Aksheev Thakur | Bengaluru |
Updated: October 7, 2021 7:44:15 pm
Representational image via AP

As professional healthcare students experience ever-growing stress due to the rigours of their training, a study by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru has found yoga to be helpful in improving their mental health and wellbeing.

The study was done by Adil Hakkim, research scholar from the department of psychiatric social work, in collaboration with the department of integrative medicine under the supervision of Dr Aarti Jagannathan, associate professor, department of psychiatric social work (psychiatric rehabilitation services).

The research was conducted in two phases; phase one involved the development of the brief yoga module for wellbeing and in phase two, the developed yoga module was tested for its feasibility on postgraduate mental healthcare students from NIMHANS.

Also read | Nimhans to help make South Bengaluru dementia friendly

In this context, the research team developed and validated a brief yoga module for postgraduate mental healthcare students that could be practised during their training period. The proposed intervention was envisaged as a health-promoting activity that would help the mental healthcare of postgraduate students in strengthening their innate coping mechanisms and improving their wellbeing.

The study finds that higher stress rates are correlated to dysfunctional coping strategies, exhaustion, and psychological morbidity.

“Professional education can have a negative impact on the emotional wellbeing and academic performance of healthcare students. Mental healthcare professionals such as mental health social workers, clinical psychologists, nurses, etc., are said to experience greater mental health problems such as stress, burnout, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization. This suggests a need for culturally appropriate psychosocial interventions to support the mental health of health‑care students to enable them to complete their training successfully,” an excerpt from the study says.

The research study has been recently accepted for publication (Adil Hakkim et al., 2021, International Journal of Yoga). Yoga was found to be effective in decreasing stress and improving general wellbeing in medical students. The brief yoga program was conducted for 15 days with 28 participants. The focus was on first‑year students who are considered the most vulnerable group compared to the seniors who have adjusted and developed their own strategies to cope with the personal and professional demands of the training period.

Despite multiple strategies, only 28 students enrolled to volunteer for the research and brief yoga module. “This lower enrolment could be due to the multiple factors such as, their awareness and personal attitude toward yoga and its benefits, inability to involve in the research program due to academic and clinical commitments, having no felt need at present for such an intervention, already pursuing other self‑care strategies or not preferring yoga, etc,” the study read.

Research suggests that interventions, including yoga, mindfulness, and mind‑body skills training, may help build the self‑awareness and resilience needed for medical students, residents, and established physicians to mitigate burnout risk.

“We looked at the wellbeing and cognition of PG mental healthcare students in NIMHANS itself. We realised that quite a few of them experienced stress during their professional training. Research has depicted that 59 per cent of professional health care students were found to have some psychosocial issues. That is quite a high number. In this background, the department of psychiatric social work in collaboration with the department of integrative medicine developed and provided a brief yoga module for postgraduate mental health care students. These students participated in a 15‑day (30 min/day) brief yoga module for improving their well‑being and cognition. A lot of the students who adhered to the yoga practice reported significant improvement in their wellbeing and cognition after two-four weeks,” Dr Jagannathan told The Indian Express.

The research paper quotes students who in the study stated that they were able to handle stress and have proper sleep after the session. “I observed the good changes in me as the day passed as I was already having hardship due to a hectic schedule. Yoga really helped me to cope with the stress of clinical duty,” a student was quoted in the study.

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