Flinders Medical Students' Society

Health, Wellbeing & Anti-Discrimination

The FMSS is at the forefront of Australian medical schools for creating a supportive environment for students and for helping its members to maintain personal wellbeing and self-care, in what can often be a very difficult academic environment. Additionally, the FMSS opposes all forms of harassment, discrimination and bullying, and takes all matters in this area seriously and responds appropriately.

Several recent research and media reports have highlighted the consistently high rates of suicide, depression, anxiety disorders, substance use and self-medication in the medical profession, including in medical students. The FMSS has established the Health and Wellbeing subcommittee to address this pattern of illness, prevent the impact of these issues on the student body, and help students focus on their wellbeing. This is a group designed to support students in their pursuit of a career in medicine through wellbeing activities, and complements and integrates the work of the FMSS Executive Committee, the School of Medicine and the Flinders University Counselling Service.

The purpose of the Health and Wellbeing Subcommittee is to:

  • Run ‘wellbeing’ events to encourage students to focus on their own self-care.
  • Ensure students feel adequately supported by FMSS and the School of Medicine.
  • Address the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in the medical student body by raising awareness of depression and anxiety symptoms, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking.
  • Develop and disseminate self-help tools specific to medical students.
  • Develop a structured education program for medical students.
  • Advocate for students in the areas of support, health and wellbeing.

Events and services:

Health and Wellbeing Handbook - A resource for students in any year at Flinders – for day-to-day health and wellbeing tips, as well as where to find extra help if you feel you may need it.

Free Confidential Counselling

Dr Susan O’Brien is generously offering free counseling specifically for medical students. Coming from a medical background herself, Dr O’Brien is uniquely placed among counsellors to understand and relate to the pressures of medical school. More details can be found in the counselling student guide.

Mental Health in Medicine Seminar

On May 31st, the Flinders Medical Students’ Society ran an interactive seminar, aimed at improving the mental health literacy of the medical students, and to determine what should be done in the future to keep mental health at the forefront of student awareness. Throughout the morning, students and staff of the medical school heard from four inspirational speakers. Dr Sue O’Brien, a general practitioner at the Flinders University Counselling Services shared her experiences in assisting students who had faced mental health issues. She provided an overview of issues that medical students often came to her for help, which many members of the audience were able to identify with. Professor John Marley, a chair in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Queensland has done copious research in the area of students and junior doctor wellbeing. He reflected that students must remember that they are people first, and doctors or medical students second. He emphasised the need to first do no harm to yourself, before your patients, in order to be an effective clinician. Andrew Hughes is a second year medical, and spoke of his personal struggles with mental health and the strategies he employed to cope with them. Members of the audience were impressed by his courage in speaking so openly about his struggles. Finally Tirsit Getachew, a member of the General Practice Students Network at Flinders University and a second year medical student emphasised the importance of establishing a relationship with a regular general practitioner, both to obtain health checks and to use as a source of help to deal with mental health issues. Following this, an interactive session took place in which staff and students engaged with the speakers on a wide range of discussions, focusing on how to progress student wellbeing in the future.

The forum was widely successful, and students took home with them a more in depth understanding of the challenges of medical school and the medical profession, a greater awareness of the prevalence, causes and signs of depression and anxiety, and an appreciation of how and where to access help. The forum challenged students’ preconceptions about mental health, and stimulated curiosity within the audience about how to improve mental health literacy and management in the future.

Wellbeing events and advocacy

The Health and Wellbeing team will be running a range of other events and advocacy throughout the year, focussing on three main areas:

  1. Mental Health - Mental Health month will also take place later in the year. We aim to increase the awareness of mental health amongst medical students, reduce the stigma attached to mental health and provide students with advice on not only where to seek assistance if needed, but how to monitor and help themselves or their peers throughout their medical years. This year, interactive seminars have been organised throughout the year to examine different aspects of mental health within the medical profession, the first of which was held on the 31st of May.
  2. Physical Activity - Physical Activities month is fast approaching in September. Events will include “sports week”, an inter-year competition that encourages students to be involved in various forms of physical activity, and promotes camaraderie between the years. We are hoping to assemble a team for the annual City-Bay Fun Run, and will encourage as many students to be involved as possible. Other promotional activities will include providing students with suggestions on how to maintain physical fitness throughout their studies, such as encouraging students to try fitness classes and sports competitions at the Flinders University gym.
  3. Nutrition - This year, Nutrition Month was held in May, the highlight of which was a Healthy Masterchef competition. Medical students were involved in cooking healthy dishes and peers voted on the tastiest and most nutritious meal. Healthy recipes and tips on how to maintain a balanced diet were also provided to medical school tute groups on a weekly basis.

If you have any questions about our work in Health, Wellbeing and Anti-Discrimination, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..