The purpose of this article is to report on the 21-year experience of the Group of Psychological Assistance to Students at the School of Medicine of the São Paulo University (GRAPAL). First, the authors briefly introduce historical aspects of the psychological assistance provided to medical students, followed by the organization of GRAPAL in 1983 and the beginning of activities in 1986. Major reasons for medical students to seek psychological assistance, obstacles found by the institution, the work team and students are presented. Then, several works published by the Service, which approach the personality traits of medical students, their choice for Medicine and the suicide problem, are listed. Finally, the authors present some suggestions made by students to improve assistance services and measures to be taken by the GRAPAL team to carry out such suggestions.
Medical students; Psychological assistance; Depression; Suicide; Professional choice