By Owais Durrani, Third-Year Medical Student at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and COSGP Legislative Representative
Medical students face many hurdles each day: exams, managing personal and professional relationships, growing student loan debt, and many other things that add to our stress. As students, we become accustomed to this stress as a way of life, not as something out-of-the-ordinary, and not a warning sign of something larger – a mindset I shared until the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP), of which I am a member, decided to delve into the issue last year. Before, I didn’t know a great deal about the stigma surrounding mental illness in our society and our profession. I never truly realized the extent of this epidemic and what we can do as a community to combat these underlying issues.
In the United States, we lose more than 400 health care professionals to suicide each year. Four hundred. Let that sink in. Just because doctors are committed to healing others doesn’t mean we are immune to the same conditions. When COSGP started to discuss mental health last year, something amazing happened: discussions about our daily stress became easy and natural. COSGP recognized that when these discussions took place, they were empowering.
In the spirit of empowering our peers and bringing these issues to light, last year COSGP launched the inaugural Osteopathic Medical Student (OMS) Day of Wellness. This day was designed to celebrate our diversity, take a detour from our usual routines, and continue to have the conversation about mental wellness in our community. Osteopathic medical schools across the country participated and planned everything from yoga to cooking classes to introducing therapy animals (we had therapy dogs at OSU-COM – Go Pokes!). That day meant different things to each individual, but everyone felt a sense of community.
COSGP’s 2nd Annual OMS Day of Wellness is today, February 10, and once again through this initiative, our schools across the nation will hold events to promote wellness and raise awareness of mental illness. As students, we can take control of our wellness and futures. So whether it be talking to a classmate about recent stress or advocating for fairer graduate student loan interest rates (join ED to MED!), I hope you can truly relax during this OMS Day of Wellness!
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by AACOM.