Academic Stress, Mental Health, & Pre-Health & Health Sciences Students

GW Team publishes two chapters in new handbook to support student mental health.

The GW Resiliency & Well-being Center research team in May 2022 published two chapters in the book, "Handbook of Research on Developing Competencies for Pre-Health Professional Students, Advisors, and Programs,"  These publications were a collaboration of Leigh A. Frame, Kirsti Dyer, Cynthia A. Powell, Donnell Dawson, Alison Warren, Patrick G. Corr, and collaborator Mandy Siglin, of ThriveMed.

Designed to assist pre-health advising, The Handbook provides insight into the critical skills and expertise essential for those striving towards employment in healthcare as well as current procedures and training to support them during their academic and professional careers. Covering topics such as lifelong learning skills, healthcare professions, and strategic learning, this major reference work is crucial for advisors, nurses, healthcare professionals, academicians, researchers, practitioners, scholars, instructors, and students.

Chapter 6: Corr PG, Siglin M, Dyer K, Powell C, Dawson D, Warren A, Frame LA. Common Academic Stress Points and Mental Health Concerns Among Pre-Health and Health Science Students.

Addressing the mental health and well-being of pre-health students is critically important to ensuring their success through college and entry into advanced training or the workforce. Pre-health students represent some of the most motivated, involved, and engaged students on campus. Retaining these students and ensuring a positive undergraduate experience may help improve the development of a robust and diverse healthcare workforce. This chapter considers academic stress points and common mental health concerns among pre-health and graduate-level clinical students and discusses the implications of poor mental health outcomes among these student populations. This chapter is the first in a two-part series designed to understand the experiences of health science students and potential adverse health outcomes they may experience. The second chapter in this series considers practical approaches for pre-health advisors to foster and encourage well-being among students.

Chapter 7: Frame LA, Dyer K, Powell C, Dawson D, Meinhardt J, Warren A, Corr PG, Siglin M. Fostering Resilience and Well-Being Among Pre-Health Students.

The well-being (health and wellness) of the pre-health student directly contributes to their short-term academic success and their long-term professional and personal aspirations. The pre-health advisor has a role to play in fostering an environment in which the pre-health student can thrive, including supporting their well-being. This chapter addresses major contributing factors: stress management and mental clarity can be accomplished in many ways, e.g., mindfulness meditation. Cognition is dependent upon immune function, which is generally supported by a diverse, plant-rich diet. Physical activity (exercise and natural movement) supports mental health and cognition and are often limited in the pre-health student as well as healthcare professionals without intentional incorporation. Restorative sleep allows for healing and repair throughout the body (including the brain) as well as memory integration; simple steps can improve sleep quality and quantity. Ultimately, the pre-health advisor should utilize cross-campus partnerships to promote a culture of well-being.

Leigh Frame, PhD, MHS, CERT '20, is the associate director of the R&W Center, director of Integrative Medicine Programs, executive director of the Office of Integrative Medicine & Health, and an assistant professor in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS).  Cynthia Powell, MA, CHWC, IWLC, is an assistant professor in the Department of Lifestyle Health Sciences at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, and at the mindfulness-based stress reduction program instructor at the GW Center for Integrative Medicine. Alison Warren, DAOM, MSHS `17, LAc, is an adjunct assistant professor in the SMHS' Department of Clinical Research and Leadership. And Patrick Corr, EdD, MEd, AFAMEE, is the R&W Center's research associate and a visiting assistant professor in the SMHS' Department of Clinical Research & Leadership.

About the GW Resiliency & Well-being Center

The GW Resiliency& Well-being Center (R&W Center) takes an evidence-based, whole person approach in the health and wellness (well-being) services it provides to the faculty, trainees, and staff of the GW medical enterprise—SMHS, GW MFA, and the GW Hospital. The R&W Center provides individual-, departmental-, and institutional-level services.