A bill that seeks to promote awareness and research on mental illness among medical students has cleared the state House.
The bill would create a panel that would review medical education in Missouri and have the authority to launch a study on depressoin and suicide among medical students.
Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) spoke about her own suicide attempt last year and urged support for the bill.
“All of you told me by your cards and your phone calls … that it was okay and that you accepted me,” Montecillo told her fellow lawmakers, “so we all need to go forward. We need to embrace this legislation.”
House sponsor Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) said medical students fear seeking help for depression and suicidal thoughts because they think it could hurt their careers. He said there are more than 400 documented suicides among doctors per year.
“When you’re in this kind of a state, you’re not thinking clearly, and you really need help. Physicians are uniquely unable, really, to ask for help because it is a red flag of their further progress of their careers,” said Frederick.
Frederick said medical students are prone to depression often due to debt, lack of sleep, and pushing themselves to meet and exceed expectations.
The bill has been sent to the Senate.