Mental illnesses have become one of the most disabling illnesses in Australia with an estimated 45% of Australians likely to experience a mental illness at some stage in their life (Aust Bureau of Stats 2008). Also alarming, were reports that the burden manifesting from depression can be exacerbated by stigmatised labels which can affect the recognition of depression as a mental illness and appropriate treatment.
As medical students, Flora Poon (semester 7 MBBS student at Bond) and colleagues Tran Nguyen - Flinders Uni, Daryl Cheng - Monash Uni and Jun Parker and Phllip Scott from James Cook Universities were keen to help raise awareness and identify the prevalence and perception of depression in medical students across 4 universities in 3 different states of Australia.
"For a large portion, depression arises from stressors, but can become a recurrent illness. Our study helped obtain useful results to help address key issues surrounding depression to ultimately find ways to improve student well being" explained Flora.
"The intention of our research was to help raise awareness about depression - creating an understanding of depression as a serious mental illness and removing the common stigma that plagues it. We presented our paper at the 53rd Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Clinical Update Conference held on the Gold Coast during May 2010 and were awarded best student research paper prize which was humbling. Our research was also awarded the research fellowship prize from the Australian Medical Students’ Association/Avant in 2009.
Our research has been submitted for publication."