Students’ mental health crisis won’t wait
Students’ mental health problems are blazing like wildfire, reveals the Mental Wealth Warning report of Suomen Ekonomit published on 20 Nov. The results are not surprising, as similar results on poor student wellbeing were revealed in the 2022 student survey of Tekniikan akateemiset and the 2021 Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).
The problem is acute, and we have plenty of research data, yet decision-makers do not take the mental health crisis seriously. Mental health improvements entered in the Government Programme on investing in free psychotherapist training and immediate access to therapy for children and young people are a promising start. However, these are completely inadequate measures when poor student wellbeing is widespread.
Higher education students display more mental health symptoms and psychological distress than the adult population as a whole (THL & Kela 2021). The figures are alarming: Up to 36% of business school students are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their own mental wellbeing (Suomen Ekonomit 2023). Up to 48% of technology students are often or constantly worried about their ability to cope (TEK 2022).
‘Students have the right to enjoy their lives. Daily life should be more than just toiling away and securing the future. Young people are under a lot of pressure to perform in student and working life, and cuts in livelihood and under-resourced mental health services are not helping the situation. Solutions are needed to lighten the student's mental burden’, says Member of the Aalto University Student Union Board Ene Rönkkö.
There is a massive shortage of mental health resources. The current mental health services of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) are not sufficient to meet the demand, and students are not getting the help they need. Society is on its way out of the frying pan into the fire if the workers of the future are, at worst, incapable for work. Statistics of Kela (2023) show that mental health problems have become the main reason for long-term sick leaves of young Finnish adults in the 21st century. Will we have capable workforce for the next decades if this trend continues, and we do not tackle the problems effectively?
Ene Rönkkö, Member of the AYY Board