Objective. To examine and compare the prevalence of mental health problems, help-seeking attitudes, and perceptions about mental health problems among US pharmacy and medical students.
Methods. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted using existing, anonymous survey data collected in the Healthy Minds Study during the 2015-2016 academic year. The analysis included 482 students (159 pharmacy students and 323 medical students) from 23 institutions in the United States. Analyzed topics included demographic characteristics, mental health status and symptoms, substance abuse, stigma related to mental health, help-seeking behaviors and attitudes, and mental health treatment perceptions.
Results. Pharmacy and medical students experienced similar rates of depression (18% met clinical cut-offs), but pharmacy students were more likely to meet clinical cutoffs for anxiety (21% vs 11%). Pharmacy students were less likely to seek help from student counseling services (only 11% vs 49%) and also less likely to know where to seek help on campus if needed. Pharmacy students also reported having higher levels of stigma regarding mental health treatment.
Conclusion. There are differences between pharmacy and medical students with regards to their experience of mental health symptoms, willingness to seek help, and perception of stigma. Despite the small sample, this analysis of national data indicates that opportunities exist to improve campus-based mental health education and offerings for pharmacy and medical students.