The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA), an umbrella body of resident doctors, is working on a mentorship program for hospitals across the city for doctors struggling to deal with mental and physical issues.
A proposal of the program has been submitted to the mental excellence and health centre at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital.
“Doctors who are from other states are mostly vulnerable as they don’t have families and friends here. It is important for them to have somebody they can talk to. This mentorship program will help all doctors who are facing these issues,” said Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president, FORDA. The federation plans to start the program from RML Hospital and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) before extending it to other hospitals.
The program, which is expected to start in each department, will be implemented by the new academic session.
“A few doctors from each department will be identified and an inter-departmental meeting will take place every month. The heads will then report to the governing body, headed by the medical superintendent of the respective hospitals. Doctors from the department of psychiatry will provide counselling to those in need,” said Dr Sandanshiv.
According to the medical practitioners, most hospitals and medical colleges in the city don’t have a dedicated wellness centres to tackle issues of medical professionals.
At 10%, suicide ideation higher in medical students
A study on depression and suicide ideation in medical students, published in the journal European Psychiatry, said that 10% of medical students experience depression and suicidal ideation — higher than that for the general population of a similar age (5–8%). A 2012 study by Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) also stated that suicidal ideation among its students was 53.6%. It was the highest in first professional year medical students (64.4%) and lowest among third professional year students (40.4%). Academic stress, taxing hours and the nature of work, doctors say, makes medical students more susceptible to depression. Yet, only a fraction of students have reached out for professional help at AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital. Senior doctors said a renewed discussion on mental health in colleges has to be made part of the formal discourse.
AIIMS constituted a Student Wellness Centre this year, with a dedicated staff of three psychologists. In addition, there is also a 24-hour helpline that connects with a psychiatrist. “On an average, three people visit the centre for counselling or a follow-up in a day. Though the number is increasing gradually, if we compare it to the total number of students on campus, the figure is less than 10%. Most of them are under-graduate students,” said Dr Pratap Sharan, professor at the psychiatry department, who also heads student welfare centre.
“We have started a communication and attitude skills workshop, with sessions on conflict and stress management,” said Prof Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College (VMMC) and Safdarjung hospital.