Mental Health Services Use Among Medical Students: Perceived Stigma and Barriers to Care

Mikaela L. Rodriguez, Andrew K. Corse, Lee D. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Medical students experience significant rates of depression, anxiety, and burnout during their training, yet they are often reluctant to seek mental health treatment. Objective: This study evaluated the use of mental health services among University of Vermont (UVM) medical students, identified barriers to use, including perceptions of stigma, and compared to the previous literature on utilization at other institutions. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was administered to all enrolled University of Vermont medical students in the spring of 2016. Outcome measures included use of mental health services, barriers to use, and items exploring attitudes toward seeking care and perceived stigma. Results: Of the 44.8% (202 of 463) students who participated in the study, 42.1% reported using mental health services in the past 12 months. The most commonly reported barriers to use of mental health services were lack of time (72.8%), lack of convenience (48.5%), and concerns about what supervisors (45%) and other students (41.1%) would think. More than one in ten students indicated that they would not seek mental health treatment even if needed. These students were more likely to have indicated that they believe other students would view them less favorably if they sought treatment. Conclusions: UVM medical students use mental health services at a high rate, relative to reports from previous studies. Nevertheless, their beliefs and attitudes suggest that there remain significant barriers to the use of mental health services, including perceptions of stigma and negative impact on their careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-272
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Mental health
  • Wellness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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