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Promotion of Psychiatry for Undergraduate Medical Students

World Psychiatric Association member society, the Indian Psychiatry Society (IPS) recently organised an Undergraduate Orientation Program in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India to promote psychiatry as a promising career among medical students. The event was supported by the WPA Working Group on Medical students, the Asian Federation of Psychiatrist Association (AFPA), & Gujarat Medical Education & Research Society (GMERS) Medical college & Hospital.

As the College & Hospital Campus is an Apex COVID care unit of the Ahmedabad City, about 150 students were allowed to attend the meeting following all measures of the Health & Family welfare Guideline issued by the Government of India.

A number of leaders in psychiatry participated in the event with introductory remarks from the Dean of GMERS Medical college & Gujarat Medical Council President, Prof. Nitin Vora, the Dean of N.H.L. Municipal Medical college Prof. Pratik Patel, and the Heads of other Gujarat institutions, Prof Ajesh Desai, Prof Aparajita Shukla & Prof Pina Soni.

Speakers included President-Elect of the Asian Federation of Psychiatry Association & Past President of the Indian Psychiatry society Dr G Prasad Rao; current President of the Indian Psychiatry Society, Dr PK Dalal; keynote speaker and immediate Past President of the Indian Psychiatry Society, Dr. Mrugesh Vaishnav; and WPA President Elect, Professor Afzal Javed.

In his presentation, Prof Javed noted that mental illness is a significant burden on the world economy and that a lack of awareness and education compound this situation. "During the exceptional times of the pandemic, every individual understands the bitter truth of how psyche supersedes the soma,” said Prof Javed. Depression, for example, will be a leading cause of global disability - and this makes it more important than ever that mental health is properly understood at the undergraduate medical education level. "We must all recognise the importance of bridging the gap between physical and mental health," he said "and medical students must understand importance of mental health."

Prof. Javed went on to discuss the need for psychiatrists to be part of a co-care approach with gastroenterology, neurology and rheumatology. A lack of collaboration means that all too often an individual presents as having a common mental health problem or as a co-morbid condition, but this is either missed or inappropriately managed.

Prof Javed also lamented the negative image of psychiatry and psychiatrists, citing as examples the underestimation of psychiatry and unjustified prejudices from the general public, mass media & healthcare professionals, as well as psychiatry’s own inability to cope favourably with external and internal concerns.

The meeting closed with an offer to all students of one-on-one help by Indian Psychiatry Society. Support to the paramedical staff, hospital administrators and housekeeping personnel during these times was explained and the idea of a unified healthcare system to reduce individual burnout was well taken by the audience.

A more detailed account of the event can be read HERE

Authors : Prof. Rishikesh Jadav, Prof. & Head, Anatomy, GMERS medical college, Sola. Dr Gaurang Thanki, President Elect, Indian Psychiatry society Gujarat state branch.



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