Towards the design of holistic mental health programs in the student population

Diana Guízar-Sánchez, Virginia Inclán-Rubio, Raúl Sampieri-Cabrera


During the COVID-19 pandemic, society experienced many changes in daily life; the limitation of social activities led to drastic changes in how interpersonal relationships were conceived. The impact of the pandemic was vast in various spheres, such as economy, politics, education, and health. The effect of the pandemic on education is a complex issue because it leads to discussing student-teacher, student-student, and teacher-teacher relationships; the dynamics of interaction migrated to environments facilitated by technology, each educational level and school discipline have particular experiences of the pandemic impact on their daily lives, undoubtedly all equally interesting. Still, particularly one discipline that the pandemic drastically affected is medical education. The social expectation of the medical profession is very high. During the pandemic, they became heroes, and in turn, some members of society saw them as possible viral vectors, which added to the general fear of the pandemic. Medical education is a complex area of clinical professional training, and it is a scientific and humanistic discipline, so the importance of human interaction is necessary and part of entire study programs. In general, medical and health sciences students need to develop competencies and social skills, which in basic training cycles are integrated into the hidden curriculum and are evaluated through the dynamics in the faceto- face setting. This abrupt change in the teaching and learning process in health sciences led to social isolation, higher suicidal ideation, emotional exhaustion, decreased physical activity, and depression, among others. Published reports on the impact of the pandemic on health sciences students are vast (Carpi & Vestri, 2023; Pitanupong, Sathaporn, Ittasakul, & Karawekpanyawong, 2023), a good part of them coming from developed countries; however, in Latin American countries, there is limited evidence. It is crucial to make visible the studies carried out in the region, one with the most significant social vulnerability to the pandemic. This monothematic number seeks to report the studies carried out in Latin America that address the issue of mental health in education in health sciences. The monothematic comprises nine articles that address the issue of mental health from different methodological perspectives, all of which are undoubtedly very valuable for understanding the mental health challenges that we must address post-pandemic. In this sense, it is worth inviting mental health and medical education specialists to continue documenting how the post-pandemic student population is, both in adapting to the new normality (gradual and controlled opening of social spaces) and in the complete opening of social spaces. Although the pandemic is getting closer to ending, its implications on the health status of those who suffered from it (both directly and indirectly) are not over yet.

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Carpi, M., & Vestri, A. (2023). The Mediating Role of Sleep Quality in the Relationship between Negative Emotional States and Health-Related Quality of Life among Italian Medical Students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(1), 26. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20010026

Pitanupong, J., Sathaporn, K., Ittasakul, P., & Karawekpanyawong, N. (2023). Relationship of mental health and burnout with empathy among medical students in Thailand: A multicenter cross-sectional study. Plos One, 18(1), e0279564. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0279564