Original Article

Utilization of Counseling Services at One Medical School

Authors: Elaine Chang, MD, Florence Eddins-Folensbee, MD, Ben Porter, BS , John Coverdale, MD, MEd


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the usage of mental health counseling services by medical students. Medical students experience high rates of burnout, depression, and suicidal ideation. Our medical school (Baylor) provides free professional counseling services.

Methods: The authors administered a survey that included a burnout scale; a depression screen; and questions about demographics, usage of counseling services, and helpful coping mechanisms for 526 first-through third-year students (336 respondents) at one school.

Results: Approximately 24% of students with high rates of burnout and 24% of students with depressive symptoms took advantage of counseling services at least once. Of the students who had not used counseling services, approximately 49% were found to have high rates of burnout in the domain of emotional exhaustion. Similarly, of the students who had not accessed counseling services, 56% had depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: A large percentage of medical students across three classes did not use mental health counseling services provided by the school. Students should be clearly informed about the availability of counseling services and their potential utility. In addition, specific barriers to attendance should be identified and reduced.

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