Medical students are exposed to multiple factors during their academic and clinical study that have been shown to contribute to high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. The purpose of this article was to explore the issue of depression in the medical student population, including prevalence, causes, and key issues, along with suggestions for early identification and support from one medical school in New Zealand. After establishing that the prevalence of depression is higher for medical students than the general population, the key issues explored include assessment used in the program, characteristics of the student population (such as Type A personality and perfectionism), resilience, selection procedures, students' motivation, and the nature of the clinical environment. This review includes several recommendations to improve students' psychological health such as positioning well-being within an overarching comprehensive workplace wellness model and integrating peer and faculty-led support into the day-to-day running of the institution. It also highlights the advantages of the addition of a well-being curriculum, as skills to prevent and manage distress and depression are relevant in supporting the competencies required by medical practitioners. It concludes that medical schools need wide-ranging strategies to address the complexities associated with the particular student population attracted to medicine and calls for educators to act, by noticing opportunities where they can introduce such initiatives into their medical programs.
Keywords: depression; medical school; medical students; mental health; well-being.