SAMOK and SYL: Mental health of higher education students crumbling, burnouts on the rise – alarming numbers a wake-up call

The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and University of Applied Sciences Students in Finland – SAMOK are troubled by the results from the Higher Education Student Health Survey published today. According to the survey, there has been an alarming increase in mental health problems and burnouts among students.

“More than one in three higher education students experience high stress levels. Mental health problems and student burnouts have become increasingly common since the year 2000, especially among men. All the survey indicators also show that mental health problems are becoming increasingly common. We need broad measures for early identification of problems and for low-threshold assistance as well as effective cooperation between higher education institutions and student health care,” demand the national student union presidents Riina Lumme and Anni Koivisto.

The study shows that weakened student finances is one reason for increased burnouts. For close to 60% of the respondents, housing costs already absorb more than half of students’ disposable income. This is an alarming and significant result, since at the beginning of the 21st century, this was the case for only about 40% of students.

“Students are forced to allocate more time to ensure they have a basic livelihood. When we consider this, it is no great surprise that the mental health of students is worsening and studies are exhausting. These alarming numbers mean we have to take action,” underlines SYL President Lumme.

The situation for students has been weakened by the cuts to student financial aid, and also other education cuts affect students, cuts to higher education institutions’ administration, for instance. At many higher education institutions, this has in effect meant cuts to services that are essential to students, such as study counselling, guidance and study psychologists.

“The study grant has been cut, living expenses have increased and labour market uncertainty grown also for highly educated persons. If this continues, higher education students and Finland’s future hopes will not be able to shoulder the important responsibility they have for financing the welfare state in the future,” worries SAMOK President Anni Koivisto.

Contact details:

Riina Lumme, President, National Union of University Students in Finland, +358 44 906 5007, firstname.surname@syl.fi

Turkka Sinisalo, Social Policy Adviser, National Union of University Students in Finland, tel. +358 41 515 2227, firstname.surname@syl.fi

Anni Koivisto, President, University of Applied Sciences Students in Finland SAMOK, tel. +358 50 389 1000, anni.koivisto@samok.fi

Eero Löytömäki, Social Policy Adviser, University of Applied Sciences Students in Finland SAMOK, tel. +358 50 389 1015, eero.loytomaki@samok.fi