Mental health of students of medicine: exploraty study in the Universidade da Beira Interior.

Alice Roberto, Anabela Almeida


The objective of the present study was to investigate the relations between levels of mental health of medical students of the Universidade da Beira Interior, from a positive and negative point of view (psychological well-being and psychological distress) with sociodemographic factors, year of course and psychological support from an health professional. The cross-sectional and anonymous study consisted in an online application questionnaire, available between February and March of the year 2009, constituted of three sections: a) Socio-demographic data b) Mental Health Inventory (MHI) c) Psychological support. The results were analyzed on the statistical program SPSS version 17 for Windows and the significant results for p <0,05 had been considered. A total of 272 (49.3%) students answered the questionnaire, of which 215 were female. The basic cycle had significant low differences in psychological well-being. The females and the third-year of course had large independent and significant negative effects on psychological well-being and psychological distress. This study shows that 8.6% of the students with levels of mental health below the mean are followed by health professionals and 6% do pharmaceutical treatment. About 10% of all students already had self-medicated for symptoms related with mental health and these had significantly low scores in global Mental Health Inventory. This research shows that symptoms of distress appear to be particular important in female students and in the 1st and 3rd years and it is necessary to understand the causes and the consequences of this situation. Targeted interventions that promote psychological well-being during the medical formation, teaching students to recognize and deal with symptoms of distress and help them to understand when they need aid may be an effective way of dealing with this problem.

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