Mumbai: Buoyed by the feedback received from medical students at workshops conducted at BYL Nair Hospital in the wake of Dr Payal Tadvi's suicide on May 22, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to launch its first-ever mental health programme for 6,000 resident doctors and medical college students across the city. Officials said they have tied up with the Institute of Psychological Health (IPH) in Thane to conduct similar programmes in their colleges and a 24/7 helpline number will also be set up for medical students. Additional municipal commissioner (AMC) Ashwini Joshi said the modules are designed to acclimatise students to the course structure, the pressures they are likely to face and teach them coping mechanisms.
“It has been observed that medical students and resident doctors struggle with work and academic stress. This will help tackle the rising cases of depression. Counselling is the only option which can help doctors. Our main objective is to help doctors get rid of depression,” said Joshi. For medical students, there will be three sessions in each of the five municipal colleges – BYL Nair, King Edward Memorial (KEM), Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (Sion), HBT Cooper Medical College and Nair Dental – until October. The dedicated helpline will provide anonymity to students and may prompt them to open up about their problems. After the session for MBBS students, another will be held for PG students in November.
Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of Nair Hospital and medical director of four civic-run hospitals, said the main reason for outsourcing counsellers is to help students and doctors share their problems so that they overcome depression and stress. “The programme will be run in three stages, where students will be given a questionnaire and counsellers will speak with them. In the second and third phases, they will help them find the solution to their problem,” said Dr Bharmal. Psychiatrists have welcomed this move of the BMC, stating they should taken this step earlier as the mental illness is on the rise among the resident doctors and medical students, causing them to suffer depression, hypertension and stress. “The programme will help students and resident doctors share their problems and views with their seniors. The helpline will serves as a means of communication for students to share their problems without hesitation,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, a psychiatrist.