The need for psychological assistance and obstacles to obtain psychological assistance of Lithuanian medical students of I-VI course of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences

Margarita Slabadienė1, Aidana Lygnugarytė-Grikšienė2

1Faculty of Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences

2Palanga Clinic, Institute of Neurosciences, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences


The frequency of mental health problems among medical students has been shown to be constantly increasing and happens to be higher than for other specialty students and the general population. Prospective medical workers in various parts of the world tend to rarely seek help to address their mental health problems.

Aim: To find out the need for psychological help for Lithuanian medical students of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), the obstacles that hinder their access to psychological help, and what kind of help students would seek first if they had suicidal thoughts.

Methods: Between April and July 2019, an anonymous survey of 322 LSMU Lithuanian medical students of I-VI courses was conducted. The questionnaire consisted of questions created by the researchers.

Results: 8.1% of the respondents received psychological assistance. 58.1% of respondents said they do not receive such assistance and 6.6% they would like some psychological help. Mostly, students wanted to have a conversation with a psychologist/psychotherapist, more psychological knowledge. Female students were more likely than male students to receive some kind of psychological help. The majority of students responded that nothing prevents to receive psychological help, but 14% fears that someone will find out, and nearly 10% of them are afraid that consultations will prevent them from working in the future. However, if one starts to think about suicide, more than half of the students surveyed would know where to go for help first.

Conclusions: 14,7% of the respondents would be needed to receive psychological assistance. The main obstacles that hindered to access to psychological help were the fear that someone would find out, the fear of being unable to work in the future, the fear of getting to the wrong specialist, being open to strangers, being misunderstood to betray their secrets, to get ashamed, it is expensive, no time to do it, lack of information on where to go. In the event of suicidal thoughts, more than half of the students surveyed would know where to go for the first help: 53.1% would turn to friends and relatives, 24.5% would go to a psychiatrist / psychologist, 14% would not go anywhere, 5% would call the helplines. 3.4% of students indicated that they would address relatives, professionals and clergy.

Keywords: medical students, psychological assistance, suicide