Changing how the world works - Improving the Mental Health of Female Resident Doctors


Maryam Mustapha is an MSc Health, Safety and Environment Management student at the University of Birmingham. Originally from Nigeria, she is also a Medical Doctor specialising in Ophthalmology at the National Hospital Abuja. Maryam is on a mission to improve the mental health of resident doctors worldwide as part of her work at the University of Birmingham.

Mental health is a critical but often overlooked aspect of healthcare. According to the World Health Organisation, mental illness affects approximately 970 million people worldwide, impacting individuals more than chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

About 90,000 hours of an adult’s lifetime are spent in the workplace, so a healthy work environment is crucial. Often the backbone of society due to typical roles in child upbringing and training, females need robust mental health to ensure they can foster responsible members of society.

During my residency, I encountered numerous challenges that affect the mental health of resident doctors. They face unique stressors, including insomnia, chronic exposure to stressful environments, complex doctor-patient relationships, and psychological harassment. Work-related stress, poor relationships with supervisors, and the additional pressures faced by female doctors, such as marriage, pregnancy, and childcare, can severely impact mental well-being. Witnessing these challenges firsthand sparked my interest in understanding and addressing the factors affecting their mental health.

My research involves conducting interviews with female resident doctors in public hospitals across Nigeria. By analyzing the data collected, I hope to uncover insights into the mental health challenges they face and the strategies they use to cope. Improving the mental health of female resident doctors will not only enhance their well-being but also improve the quality of care they provide. Healthy doctors are more likely to make better clinical decisions, maintain positive relationships with colleagues and patients, and contribute to a more effective healthcare system.

Choosing the University of Birmingham was one of the best decisions I made. The university’s reputation as part of the Russell Group and its high QS global ranking were significant factors. Additionally, the diverse background, state-of-the-art facilities, and incredibly supportive tutors have created a friendly and conducive learning environment.

I am particularly grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Surindar Dhesi, whose guidance and support has been invaluable, both in my research and my overall experience at the university.

Upon completing my MSc, I plan to return to Nigeria to share the knowledge and skills I have acquired to contribute to improving the mental health of medical doctors. By advocating for better support systems and highlighting the importance of mental health, I hope to make a lasting positive impact on the healthcare system and the global community at large. Through my research and future endeavors, I aim to contribute positively to our planet by ensuring that those who care for others are themselves well-supported and healthy.

Together, we can change how the world works, one step at a time.

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