It’s normal to feel a little stressed or homesick once in a while when studying overseas. However, for MBBS students studying abroad, it has been difficult. According to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, a few of them have been suffering from mental health issues while one of them even withdrew from the course. To address this, the ministry conducted a two-day orientation programme recently for about 70 students selected for this year’s overseas scholarship programme focussing on mental health.
The orientation programme focused more on self-care, coping with stress, and instilling Bhutanese values. According to the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, the pandemic aggravated mental health issues in students studying overseas.
“Because of the pandemic universities got closed and then, our students had to go online, they could not adapt to the online mode of studies. Then, some of them went through depression,” said Karma Phuntsho, deputy chief programme officer from MoESD.
During the programme, doctors and counsellors shared their experiences and advised them on mental health.
“Some of the advice that I received would be practising mindfulness. Some relieve stress through playing basketball and some through reading and reading has always been the number one option for me. Also, I like to focus more on maintaining a healthy diet,” said Rozy Chhetri, an MBBS scholarship recipient.
“We were given orientation about the change in environment and the social and culture we must face when we are studying in certain universities abroad. We are oriented on the change we must face and also the responsibility and roles that we must shoulder as Bhutanese citizens and goodwill ambassadors of Bhutan,” said Kinzang Dendup, another MBBS scholarship recipient.
The students were advised to sleep on time, maintain a healthy diet and perform regular exercises to prepare them for any mental stress due to culture shock and workload.