Name of the activity: The Public Health Week

Country/NMO: Norway (NMSA)

Program: Mental Health

 

Contact information: [email protected]

Type of the activity: Education

 

General description:

The Public Health Week was established in 2013 in one of our LCs. It has later become a tradition to organize it every year in all our four LCs in Norway. It is up to the LC to decide the main topic for the week, but we have seen a trend that most times they have chosen to enlighten mental health somehow. This is probably connected with the lack of focus on this in our studies, even though it is a big problem for a large part of the population in general, but especially among medical students. We therefore aim to make it a topic it is more acceptable to talk about and give students more knowledge and a better understanding of the importance of a good mental health. We hope this will benefit both the students and their future patients.
After the main topic for the week is decided on, we start planning all the events and activities. These include lectures and social events.
As mentioned mental health is often the main topic, and other topics, often closely related to mental health, includes drug abuse, sexual health and healthy lifestyle.

Focus area:

Communities especially vulnerable to mental health

Problem statement:

The Public Health Week aims to put focus on different relevant topics within Public Health. Every year each of our LCs organize this, and they choose the topic based on need and interest. Most times this has been organized, the topic has been within mental health. A lot of students within the health profession struggle with depression and burnout symptoms. At the same time this is a topic that is yet not fully acceptable to talk about to others. We also don’t hear a lot about it throughout our studies, even though suicide is the most common cause of death among people in our age group.
We therefore see this as a great arena to talk about these topics, and make it less of a tabu. Hopefully, along the way, we can help reduce stress and make people speak up about it, also in the future.

Target groups and beneficiaries:

Our main target group is medical students, but our events are usually open for all interested students. Some of our LCs also cooperate With other student organisations, such as psychology students.
We hope and believe that this will, in the long run, benefit our future patients as Health Professionals. When we see it as something that is okay to adress, it will be easier for us to ask the difficult questions to our patients and if our attitude towards these issues reflect understanding and hope, it will be easier for them to open up to us and easier for us to help them.

Objectives and indicators of success:

– Reduce stress and symptoms of depression and burnout among students by providing them with tools to better deal with it themselves and to help others who struggle. Indicator: compare levels of stress and symptoms of burnout and depression in students before the activity started with after.
– Make medical students more comfortable with talking about mental health issues, so they are better equipped to handle these as doctors.

Methodology:

Planning of The Public Health Week starts a few months ahead and we start by choosing a main topic, based on the needs and interest. We then brainstorm about the activities and the plan for the week and the members of the LC is assigned an event that they’re in charge of.
We try to plan a diverse specter of activities, both to reach all kinds of people with different interests and show a lot of different sides to the issue and the possible solutions.
Throughout the week we have several different lectures aimed at students, for example about mindfullness, procrastination, depression and burnout, Healthy lifestyle and suicide prevention.
We also offer social activities such as yoga, meditation, cooking, mountain hikes and parties.

Plans for evaluation:

Evaluation differ from year to year, but here are some of the methods we usually use:
– How many people reached? For each event we make an estimate of how many people showed up, and add these up at the end of the week.
– Previously we have handed out questionnaires before and after the week, and compared peoples knowledge before and after the event.
– Compare research done on medical students mental health before The Public Health Week was established, with the status a few years into it.