A descriptive study of mental health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students in the UK

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2019 Nov-Dec;31(7-8):563-568. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2019.1648621. Epub 2019 Aug 28.


Doctors and medical students are working in a system which is affecting their mental wellbeing and their ability to provide the best possible care for patients. The British Medical Association conducted an online survey of doctors and medical students in October 2018. In total, 4347 responses were received and analysed. Doctors working the longest hours appear to be most vulnerable to psychological and emotional disturbance. Older and more senior doctors are most likely to report that their working environment has impacted on their condition. Medical students and junior doctors report the highest rate of having a formally diagnosed mental health condition in the last 12 months. This may be because they are in the vulnerable age group when psychiatric disorders start. Junior doctors were least likely to be aware of how to access help or support. Older doctors, those working as SAS (Staff, Associate Specialists and Specialty) doctors and overseas qualified doctors are most likely to say they have asked for support in managing a problem from their employer but that no support was provided. It is important to recognize that doctors, in spite of stress and poor wellbeing, continue to work hard, which has both advantages and disadvantages. These findings highlight that the environment in which doctors work, train, and study affects their mental health, and for this reason careful consideration needs to be given to the type and level of support provision available to them, as well as the ease of access and awareness of such support.

Keywords: Mental health; doctors; medical students; trainee doctors; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult