There has been a lot of debate about students’ mental health crisis, but so far not much concrete action has been taken. According to the Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (KOTT), 57.4 per cent of higher education students suffer from mental stress, and 35.5 per cent are in danger of falling ill due to it.
SYL has long been calling for more resources to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS), but we must also look at what unites all our students, namely the university. Universities can invest in preventive support and counselling services for students. There is no legislation that applies directly to support services provided by institutes of higher education, so it is not stated anywhere how much and what kind of services students are entitled to.
As we looked into the state of support services, it soon became clear that it is a complex system. Certain things are addressed well, and students’ wishes have been heard, but the availability of support and counselling services may vary considerably.
This puts students in a difficult position in terms of support services, as the kinds of services available depends very much on their university.
SYL has drawn up recommendations for student support services for the improvement of support and counselling services in higher education. Student unions have contributed to the wording of the recommendations and our hope is that student unions would use the recommendations as a basis for discussion on such services.
We want to see more resources being provided for student support and counselling, but also social worker services provided by universities. Having someone to talk to on short notice and to receive support for managing from day to day could help reduce the long queues for FSHS mental health services.
The mental health crisis cannot be ignored, and will not resolve itself. FSHS is trying its best to help as many as possible, but the daily environment also plays an important role in how students will feel about their studies in the future. So let’s get to work to ensure better prevention!