BY NICHOLAS WILKES
When someone tell you they are sick, what’s the first thought coming across your mind? Even as a medical student, many of us may automatically think of a physical illness, like a flu, a stomachache, a broken arm, something that is visible to the naked eye that you are more likely to notice and understand how it can impact someone’s activities and life. But there’s more to health than just the physical health that we all refer to when we wish someone good health, that is the health of our minds – our mental health.
World Mental Health Day is coming up on October 10th and occurs every year to raise awareness of mental health issues and promote greater support for mental wellbeing on both an individual level as well as on a larger scale. While the significance of physical health to one’s life quality and expectancy is increasingly appreciated, unfortunately, we tend to pay less attention to our mental wellbeing, which is undoubtedly becoming more important than ever in this pandemic. The detrimental impact of physical isolation and countless disruptions to normal life may have different impacts on each of us, but one certain thing among all these undesirable uncertainties is that we all have to experience this to some degree, and our mental health is all potentially at higher risk of being compromised during these difficult times.
This time of the year when exams are imminent, even without the presence of the COVID situation, it is undeniably stressful for everyone no matter what year levels you are in, and it can be hard to avoid feeling down, overwhelmed, worried or anxious all the time, but remember that you are not lonely. As how we will never judge our patients or loved ones because they are having a hard time with their mental issues, we all can support others who are in need, as well as reach out for help when we need to. Mental problems should never be stigmatized, it is not a sign of weakness, and it applies to everyone including us, who are expected to be the professional carers for our future patients. We do not have to be perfectly
healthy mentally and physically to fulfil this job, but we need to understand that our own wellbeing should always be the first priority over anything else.
Just as how throughout the course of medicine, we have been taught that prevention is always better than treatment, make sure to take steps from this very minute to give yourself a moment to think about your current mental state, and what you can do to prevent it from getting worse, because every day should be a day when you care about your mental wellbeing. Try all the self-help advice to adjust yourself to this current pandemic situation, establish a routine schedule to optimize your productivity and sense of self-control, find a friend or family member when you are feeling blue, but don’t forget that sometimes even with your best efforts, there are things which can still be out of your control, and that’s totally OK. Take one step at a time, things may be very tough now no matter how you look at it, but looking back on
the paths you have been through to realize how far you have come to this point, and one day these difficult times can be another past that your future self will be so proud of. Please do not hesitate to seek for professional help when you need to, just like how you would hope you future patients to look for your help when they are really in need. I wish you all to be healthy today and every day, mentally and physically and best of luck with your exams.