October 30, 2017 by
Wellness Committee Student Representatives (from left to right, front row first): Tim Flanagan '18, Flo DiBiase '19, Lizzy McLeod '20, Florence Lambert-Fliszar '20, Ben Smith '19, Caleb Knight '20, Moshe Bitterman '18, Alexa Arvidson '20
On October 18, more than 65 UVM medical students filtered into the Sullivan Classroom to attend the Student Mental Health Panel hosted by the Larner College of Medicine Wellness Committee. Held once per semester, the fall panel was comprised of seven UVM medical students, including three fourth-years, one third-year, two second-years, and one first-year. One by one, each student spoke for 10 minutes about their own battles with mental health conditions such as addiction, bipolar disorder, suicide ideation, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression. Sharing their experiences, they recounted not only times during which they experienced mental health crises, but also the ways in which they sought and obtained treatment, support, and services.
By holding this presentation each semester, the panelists hope to help normalize and reduce the stigma attached to mental health conditions, especially when those fighting them are physicians and other medical professionals. Introducing the panel, a student from the Committee noted that medical students and those employed in the medical field struggling with mental health crises often feel shame, guilt, or uncertainty about their condition, but added that “You cannot be a good provider until you take care of yourself.”
This sentiment was a common thread throughout the panel presentation and ensuing discussion. After speaking of times of crises, all of the students spoke about the different ways in which they sought help. Whether through therapy, active participation in recovery programs, medication, or a combination of all three, all had sought and obtained support to cope with their condition. One student, who struggled with addiction, sought help, and is in recovery shared their story and ended with a note of encouragement, reminding their classmates that, “it’s courageous to ask for help.”
Before opening up the floor for questions, comments, and additional discussion, the panel left attendees with an important message. “Remember”, one panelist said, “We’re all in medical school and we’re all going to be doctors but we’re still human and still going to be patients sometimes too.”
The Wellness Committee
The Wellness Committee serves to promote the health of the student body through educational and recreational events within UVM LCOM. The group runs monthly peer support group meetings, provides confidential one-on-one peer support, and can connect students to mental health resources both within the university and the broader community. The committee continuously works to implement new ideas that promote the overall wellness of the student body, such as art afternoons, monthly fresh Fridays, a workshop with dieticians, and outdoor activities such as bird watching.
For more information about treatment and services offered through UVM, please visit the Center for Health & Wellbeing at UVM.