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It’s Okay To Not Be Okay: Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health in the Medical Field

Written by Jennifer Burkett, BCOM Class of 2020

It is obvious there is a large stigma around mental health, especially, in the medical field. According to a recent article in Clinical Psychiatric News, titled “What stops physicians from getting mental health care,” if a physician marks a box indicating they have had a diagnosis of, or treatment for, a mental illness on Board Licensing forms, their mental history is dissected under a microscope. However, this is not true with other impairing disorders like seizures and diabetes control. Additionally, there is no research to support the idea that asking about a physician’s mental illness improves patient safety. So why are physicians being punished for admitting something that will affect one in four people in the entire world at some point in their life?

Physicians are working to resolve this policy on a national level, but in order to help locally, the Mentality Initiative to Nurture Doctors (M.I.N.D.) will help by breaking down the stigma surrounding the conversations of mental health issues. This will be accomplished through a volunteer basis. Volunteers can submit their stories discussing their own mental health stories, past or present, formally diagnosed or not. Each volunteer will be rewarded with a gift to demonstrate BCOM’s appreciation towards these individuals who work with us to break these socio-normative constructs. BCOM’s Mental Health Task Force and our BCOM clubs have graciously donated items in support of this movement.

If you are interested in sharing your story, please send an e-mail to

Our first story is my own. Growing up I was a very happy child; however, when I went off to college I had a hard time adjusting and fell into a deep depression. Thankfully, I had an amazing support system and was encouraged to seek help. I saw a therapist for several years to work through my depression and discovered the root of my depression stemmed from my underlying anxiety. After talking with a therapist, I went to a physician and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. It took a while, but I was able to learn coping mechanisms, was placed on an SSRI, and continued seeing my therapist. Although I have gotten better at controlling my PTSD and depression, I still get overwhelmed, have nightmares and flashbacks, and feel depressed at times. But my support group, my boyfriend, and my friends help keep me grounded throughout the chaos that is medical school. My advice to everyone is to seek help before it is too late because you cannot help your patients if you do not help yourself first.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” – Phil Donahue

Jennifer Burkett
Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine
Medical Student (OMSII)
Psych Cinema, President