The mental health of graduate students at the Federal University of São Paulo: a preliminary report

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Nogueira-Martins, Luiz Antonio [UNIFESP]
Fagnani Neto, Rafael [UNIFESP]
Macedo, Paulo Costa Mosca [UNIFESP]
Citero, Vanessa de Albuquerque [UNIFESP]
Mari, Jair de Jesus [UNIFESP]
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We present data regarding the care provided to graduate level health professionals at the mental health center of the Federal University of São Paulo. From September 1996 to September 2003, 146 graduate students (99 in the Master's degree program and 47 in the Doctoral program) were attended. This population was predominantly female (68.5%), with a mean (± SD) age of 28.6 ± 4.42 years, not married (71.9%). Most of the subjects were professionals who had not graduated from the Federal University (78.1%). The students who sought help for psychological and/or psychiatric problems were classified into two categories: situational-adaptive crises and psychopathological crises. The main diagnoses were depression and anxiety disorders (44%) causing 4.5% of the subjects to be temporarily suspended from their graduate studies; 19.2% reported that they had used psychotropic drugs within the previous month, and 47.9% referred to sleep disturbances. Suicidal tendencies were mentioned by 18% of those interviewed. Students with emotional disturbances and academic dysfunctions should be recognized at an early stage, and it is fundamental for them to have access to mental health programs that provide formal, structured and confidential care. Thus, it is important that professors and advisors in graduate programs build a warm and affective learning environment. If we consider the expressive growth in Brazilian scientific production resulting from the implementation of an extensive national system of graduate education, it is important to focus efforts on enhancing and upgrading the mental health care system.
Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. Associação Brasileira de Divulgação Científica, v. 37, n. 10, p. 1519-1524, 2004.