Mental health as an activity

Hey everyone

I’m thinking about adding going to therapy and focusing on mental health in my activity section. I’m hesitant because I don’t know how medical schools will look at that. What do you think should I steer away from talking about mental health or should I talk about my transformative experience in it?


Hey Faisal

My first question would be, what do you mean by “going to therapy”? Does this mean as a patient/client or do you mean volunteering/working in a therapy office? Being a patient/client wouldn’t really be relevant for an activity section, but volunteering/working would.

From a volunteer/work perspective, it’s difficult to say how med schools will view it. I’ve heard some people say that therapy work counts as clinical experience, depending on your level of interaction with clients. Others have told me that it can be added as an activity, but not clinical. Either way, Dr. Gray always talks about doing what you love in medicine, rather than trying to fulfill a checklist. Further, if your experience with mental health is important to the “why” behind your desire to be a doctor then it’s worth talking about.

Nevertheless, (if your referring to a personal struggle with mental health) as someone who currently works as a therapist, and has struggled with my own mental health issues, I understand your concern. The stigma around mental health is unfortunate, but real, and you don’t want to proverbially “shoot yourself in the foot.” In the end, the decision is up to you. But, if you do decide to bring this topic up, I would personally focus on answering these two questions: “How has your experience with mental health called you to medicine?” and “What have your experiences with mental health taught you about yourself, others, and medicine in general?” As you can see, the questions are very similar and lean towards the transformative experience you mentioned (i.e. try not to get bogged down on the struggles themselves).

Also, I’d recommend checking out Dr.Gray’s podcast “Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A,” (ep.95 - Disclosing mental illness when applying) for some more useful thoughts.

Good luck and Best wishes!

Thank you so much! That was helpful