The MIND Study

The University of Sheffield CTRU is running a new research study funded by the British Medical Association (BMA) Scholarship Grant (2022). The aim of the project is to capture the mental health profiles of medical students and understand their barriers to help-seeking or accessing support.



Overview: experience-based co-design to improve services

Mental health problems are prevalent among medical students, with a global prevalence of 27%. Poor mental health among medical students is associated with adverse outcomes such as alcohol and substance abuse, self-harm and suicide attempts. A 2018 British Medical Association meeting reported that six UK medical students completed suicide in an 18-month period. This humanistic and economic burden makes research into how we can better meet the mental health needs of medical students an urgent priority.

Access gaps, difficulty navigating pathways and resource constraints mean that medical students who do feel able to seek help can fall between the gaps. Students may delay approaching services until their needs are severe or impact their studies, and may turn to more acute care settings as a way of accessing the professional support they need.

A US study found that university students represented 8% (n=175) of attendances in a psychiatric emergency department over a one-year period, with 27% of those students (n=46) admitted to the inpatient psychiatry unit (Hong et al, 2020). Understanding the experiences of medical students and the challenges to service provision is essential for overcoming barriers to access and improving the quality of existing services.

The study

The proposed research will co-design a toolkit to enable student support services to better meet the specific needs of medical students. Medical students and health professionals will co-design research materials, and interpret research data on unmet mental health needs and barriers to help-seeking. Finally, they will build on existing work to map multi-agency pathways for mental health support, as well as gaps in provision or access that affect medical students.

This is a sequential mixed-methods study incorporating

  • a cross-sectional online survey (CCAPS-34, demographic and service use questions) to characterise the population of at-risk medical students
  • a stakeholder panel of medical students and professional stakeholders to co-design research materials and re-design support systems
  • semi-structured interviews with a nested sample of medical students and professional stakeholders
  • a co-designed process map based on multi-sector service pathways to determine where system failures may occur

The process map will build a visual model of support pathways, annotated with notes on system constraints and acceptability. The medical student-specific toolkit will be disseminated to medical schools to improve support service access and delivery.

Study update

The MIND Study start date is 1st September 2022. The project will run for one year until the end of August 2023. The ethics application has been submitted to ScHARR Research Ethics Committee and is awaiting an outcome.

Project Management Group





Miss Elena Sheldon

Principal Investigator 

University of Sheffield – CTRU

Prof Chris Burton


Academic Unit of Medical Education, The Medical School

Prof Daniel Hind

Supervisor (CTRU Lead)

University of Sheffield – CTRU 

Dr Melanie Simmonds Buckley


University of Sheffield – Clinical and Applied Psychology Unit 

Miss Jasmine Young


The Medical School 


Research protocol (PDF, 388KB)

Participant information sheet (PDF, 127KB)