News & Stories

Man looking off into distance

Turning a Mirror to Face Depression

Students studying how to diagnose and treat depression can sometimes miss it in certain patients—like themselves.

An article written by a student and published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine gives voice to the denial, fatigue and other symptoms that slowed him down for months before he realized what was happening.

Mark Munetz, M.D., The Margaret Clark Morgan  Endowed Chair in Psychiatry, recognizes that the student author is not unusual. Dr. Munetz championed two mental health panels held over the winter at NEOMED.  The Psychiatry Student Interest Group (PSIG) hosted a student panel for all interested students.  The faculty panel presented to first-year students in Professional Foundations II. At each, the panelists discussed their experiences of struggling with mental health issues of anxiety, depression or other symptoms—and their paths to recovery.

Dr. Munetz wants NEOMED to continue its work to reduce stigma so that when people recognize they need help, they will feel free to seek it out—and not feel shame or that they are risking their career. He leads NEOMED’s Mental Health Committee, established five years ago to promote mental health initiatives. Members of the committee –student representatives, staff members and faculty from across the University—meet monthly to act on their mission to “advance mental wellness and self-care for NEOMED students, faculty, and staff by adopting a comprehensive approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention.”

Moving forward

With the addition of on-campus counseling for students and wellness services for the entire campus community offered through Sequoia Wellness, the University has bolstered its offerings in recent years.

Currently, the Mental Health Committee is partnering with the Jed Foundation, the national expert in student mental health.

The Foundation is working with NEOMED’s committee to develop a strategic plan with action steps to continue the University’s progress in the areas of student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts. Some of the first things that NEOMED is working on involve increasing help-seeking  and assuring everyone on campus is trained in how to identify, reach out and refer colleagues or students who may be struggling.

NEOMED has already begun a multi-year initiative with the Jed Foundation to implement action steps that are on the evolving NEOMED strategic plan. Work with the Jed Foundation demonstrates that the University’s leadership is committed to assuring that students’ mental health needs are addressed, says Dr. Munetz.

“The Mental Health Committee is reaching out to work with interested students to help us build a culture in the NEOMED community that clearly supports help-seeking for mental illness and promotes mental wellness. We are calling this effort NEOMED Cares—because we do.’’