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Critical Reflections on Mental Well-being for Post-Secondary Students Participating in the Field of Global Health

Published on Jun 1, 2019in International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction1.42
· DOI :10.1007/s11469-018-0007-5
Corey McAuliffe (U of T: University of Toronto), Ross E. G. Upshur47
Estimated H-index: 47
(U of T: University of Toronto)
+ 1 AuthorsErica Di Ruggiero10
Estimated H-index: 10
(U of T: University of Toronto)
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Abstract
The ways in which global health students experience trauma/distress while conducting global health fieldwork is understudied. No identifiable literature addresses the risks to students’ mental well-being, although physical wellness checks exist. Importantly, global health practitioners are at greater risk than the general population for moral distress, secondary-traumatic stress disorder, vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue, burnout, stress, and anxiety. Students face increased risks (e.g., illness, physical safety), especially in respect to their mental well-being. While academic institutions often require pre-departure trainings, research suggests that they are insufficient or ineffective. Challenges are not only limited to before and during one’s placement, but can be intensified after returning home due to concerns about one’s reputation, being perceived as not able to cope, or feeling ethically/morally obliged to continue research that can be re-traumatizing. This paper critically reflects on these knowledge gaps and on how the lack of appropriate resources and supports has ethical and practical implications for students, the wider academic community, and the communities in which they work.
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