AMSA Mental Health – Australia (AMSA)

Name of the activity: AMSA Mental Health

Country/NMO: Australia (AMSA)

Program: Mental Health


Contact information: [email protected]

Type of the activity: Campaign


General description:

Humans on Medicine is a Yearly Social Media Awareness Campaign that runs during October in association with ‘Blue Week’ a Mental Health Awareness Week which in undertaken in Medical schools across Australia. The campaign has been running for three years. Students submit their personal stories of their own
The campaign consists of profiles of medical students who have bravely chosen to share their stories of adversity, struggle, poor mental health, or methods of coping. The campaign as its name suggests aims to provide a ‘human’ (personal and anecdotal) side to mental illness.
The stories detail difficult times students have been through, lessons learn about ones-self and managing the demands of medical school with life, obstacles students have overcome, methods of coping students have found helpful.
The primary objective of the campaign is to destigmatise mental illness within the medical profession and rebuild conversation around mental health between medical students and within the medical profession to change how medical students view mental health.

The stories are submitted to the AMSA Mental Health team and are posted on the AMSA Mental Health Website and Facebook Page. The 2017 Humans of Medicine Campaign can be viewed through these links: Indicators of success include the reach of individual stories on social media – Facebook and AMSA Mental Health website, discussion of mental health by medical school students within their universities and on social media (see below).
In 2018 the Humans of Medicine Campaign will form the final pillar of AMSA Mental Health’s new preventative campaign ‘Activ8 Mental Health’ which aims to raise awareness and engaging medical students in maintaining mental wellbeing. The campaign is constructed around eight pillars of wellbeing that support mental health; Food, Physical activity, Mindfulness, Community, Sleep, Leisure, Sustainable environment and Connection. Each pillar is dedicated one month during 2018 as the focus for medical student wellbeing events across Australia and social media posts. The campaign is designed to bring students easy ways to reconnect with ones self, others and their passions outside medicine, to Activ8 your mental wellbeing. The campaign will conclude with the final pillar – Connection integrating Humans of Medicine and the need for active and ongoing communication, openness, support networks, to cultivate resilience and to break down stigma around mental illness.

Focus area:

Mental Health among medical students

Problem statement:

Medical students consistently have higher rates of mental health issues compared to the general population – including stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. When they enter university they have the same levels of psychological wellbeing as the general population, but throughout medical school, their risk of developing a mental health condition increases significantly.

Target groups and beneficiaries:

The target group is medical students across 22 universities in Australia. This includes both students submitting their mental health story and all students who have read or heard about other students stories over social media, or in conversation.

Beneficiaries of the activity include any individuals who have read the Humans of Medicine Stories on Social Media. This includes all past and present Australian Medical Students, all those who have liked the AMSA Mental Health page, facebook friends of the submitting students and facebook friends of any person who has liked or commented on the Humans of Medicine posts.

Each year new stories are collated on the AMSA Mental Health website and these stories become a resource for medical students and any member of the public who accesses the stories for years to come. Each story shared on the Facebook page would receive up to 21 000 views and we posted approximately 20 stories during the month of October. The stories are targeted at medical students but are available and have been accessed by individuals from around the world. The campaign has received positive feedback from Australian medical students, university students from other faculties and individuals from diverse fields including mental health professionals working within Australian universities and medical professionals at our partner hospitals.

Many medical schools would print out and put on display stories of students from their university and others, this would create a physical talking point at the university for all students.

Objectives and indicators of success:

The top achievement for 2017 was the fantastic feedback that we received about the campaign both from students who submitted their stories and students who read them. We had over 30 submissions in 2017 and we had up to 20 000 people engaging with each of these submissions over Facebook. In addition students would share stories on their university medical society Facebook pages, their personal pages, or through email which greatly added to our visibility and social media presence.

Currently our AMSA Mental Health Facebook page has 4,800 followers, which exceeds the number of medical students across Australian. Its reach has grown by 1,000 followers in the past 12 months.

2017 was the first year that the campaign received submissions from almost every university in Australia. This successfully indicates that our campaign is reaching and involving medical students across Australia. Furthermore our Facebook engagement statistics show that individuals from all states in Australia are interacting with the posts, as well as individuals in countries throughout the world including UK, USA, Spain, Italy, India, Hong Kong.
We are currently working to review public engagement with our AMSA Mental Health website.

In 2017 we allowed anonymous submissions, which this campaign has not done in the past. This was done to emphasise the dual nature of the benefits of the campaign – both to the students viewing the stories and to the students that submitting them. Sharing one’s story is a huge part of one’s personal mental health journey and the AMSA Mental Health team decided that requiring students to put their names on their story was a deterrent for some students choosing to share their mental health journey and was therefore limiting the accessibility of the campaign and it’s depth of content. We found anonymous posts had less interaction of social media, indicating viewers identify with the campaigns humanisation/putting a face to mental illness, as a means of destigmatising mental health. This suggests our campaign is successful in achieving this goal. However we believe anonymous submissions still offer extremely important stories to be shared are we received great feedback from those who did give anonymous submissions on what it did for them personally to be able to share their mental health journey without putting their name to it.


This initiative is a month long campaign run during october. Preparation within the AMSA Mental Health team begins in August. The Mental Health Team consists of 6 members, from different medical schools across Australian and one member is responsible for coordinating the Humans of Medicine Campaign.

2017 was the third time that the Humans of Medicine Campaign was run by AMSA Mental Health team. The Mental Health team is made up of a Coordinator, and five team members, who all work with the AMSA Executive, and AMSA Mental Health and Wellbeing Representatives from each medical school in Australia.

Our AMSA Mental Health team member Grace Scolyer was the primary overseer of Humans of Medicine. She worked extremely hard on the promotional material and sourcing submissions in the months leading up to the campaign, and in coordinated the release of stories during October.

Our AMSA Mental Health team started our term in July 2017. We initially had a planning period for the Humans of Medicine campaign as we decided on the focuses and our promotional strategies for 2017. The campaign is very well established in the AMSA national calendar and is widely recognised and well regarded by medical students in Australia. Building on the successes of previous years, in 2017 we began advertising the campaign in August and accepting submissions through a google form. We accepted a record amount of submissions in 2017. The google form was distributed on our Facebook page, website, and AMSA representatives promoted it at each medical school. We officially launched Humans of Medicine 2017 on October 1st during the Third AMSA National Council in Brisbane where the AMSA Executive and representatives from each medical school were present. We posted on the AMSA Mental Health Facebook page almost everyday during October, we varied the release times and order of posts based on the nature of the submissions and the reach/interaction of each post on social media.

We encouraged the representatives from each university to share posts from their students on social media and through email to further support their students and increase the reach of the campaign.

Plans for evaluation:

Our evaluation process is quite extensive and is still ongoing. As this is a campaign that is run by AMSA each year in October there is plenty of time for us gain a lot of feedback about the campaign to pass onto the Mental Health team who will be running the campaign in October 2018.
We received feedback on the planning stages of the campaign at the Third AMSA National Council meeting in October which was extremely valuable as this is a nationwide meeting. Throughout the campaign we have received feedback from AMSA representatives and students from each university as well as the 2017 and 2018 AMSA Executives.
Another way which we have received evaluation is through the AMSA National Survey. The AMSA National Survey is distributed to all 17 000 medical students in Australia and is a comprehensive survey that helps to guide AMSA’s advocacy priorities for the following year. We are currently undergoing a review of the responses relevant to the Mental Health projects for improvements in 2018.

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