Essential Steps to Mental Wellbeing Highlighted at RCSI Bahrain
In support of the wellbeing of our students and staff, RCSI Bahrain recently held a two-week Mental Health Awareness campaign on campus.
The first week-long campaign led by the Student Development & Wellbeing department promoted five essential steps to positive mental wellbeing. The campaign focused on mindfulness, which is the practice of focusing on the present moment and being aware of our thoughts, emotions and feelings. Mindfulness is particularly beneficial as a stress management technique and a driver of positive changes towards our mental and physical health. Other advice promoted as part of the campaign included socialising regularly, being physically active, learning new skills, participating in philanthropic activities and spending time in nature.
The second week-long campaign led by the students’ Clubs and Societies featured an array of fun or restful activities to lift the students’ spirit. The students’ Green Society in collaboration with the Student Development & Wellbeing department organised a trip to the Farmer’s Market in Budaiya with students and staff enjoying the greenery and fresh local produce alongside socialising.
Since 2021, the Student Development & Wellbeing department has been actively promoting mindfulness practice to staff and students. Several mindfulness workshops have been held by Dr Hani Malik, Lecturer in Family Medicine, who published a scoping review study on mindfulness practice and physician burnout. As part of his study, Dr Malik co-created a novel theoretical model named the “System Individual Burnout Spectrum (SIBS)”, which illustrates the impact of systems-level organisational environment, leadership and culture on the individual’s personhood and well-being, and proposes mindfulness practice as a mitigator for burnout. This study published in Frontiers in Psychology was part of Dr Malik’s thesis for the completion of the RCSI MSc in Leadership and Innovation in Healthcare.
The importance of mental health and wellbeing is also emphasised in RCSI’s Transforming Healthcare Education Programme (THEP). The newly implemented undergraduate medical curriculum has incorporated resilience training under the Personal and Professional Identity (PPiD) theme. Six faculty members of the School of Medicine at RCSI Bahrain, Professor Kevin Dunne, Professor and Head of Paediatrics Department; Professor Nuha Birido, Associate Professor in Surgery and Academic Director of Clinical Simulation; Dr Sally Doherty, Senior Lecturer in Psychology; Dr Jamal Hashem, Lecturer in Surgery; Dr Luma Ebrahim Bashmi, Lecturer in Psychology and Dr Hani Malik, Lecturer in Family Medicine, have been trained at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center and have been nominated as the core members of the new Resilience Training team. Students in undergraduate Medicine Year 1 started the resilience training this semester with a session on developing an 'Optimistic Mindset', the starting point on their journey to construct cognitive and emotional fitness, strength of character and build trusting relationships, which are key attributes to becoming an empathetic global healthcare professional.
At RCSI Bahrain, embedding mindfulness in the organisational culture is a project within the University’s Student Engagement and Partnership (StEP) Programme. Dr Wendy Maddison, Head of Student Development & Wellbeing and Director of StEP Programme; Dr Hani Malik, Lecturer in Family Medicine; Ms Zarish Hussain, Year 3 medical student, and Ms Haniya Habib, Year 1 medical student, are currently working on a StEP project to investigate whether the practice of mindfulness can positively impact the academic performance of medical students as a first step forward.