OLL comments on the results of the health and wellbeing survey – the solutions emphasise exercise, community, and varied life situations

When it comes to supporting students’ coping and ability to study, it’s time to go from research results to actions. At the webinar on the results from the KOTT study, OLL's 1st Vice President Tekla Hahl spoke about the opportunities within the universities on the move programme and acknowledging students’ varied life situations.

The survey, which was carried out last year, shows that students need fast-access, long-term support for their wellbeing. One in three university students was under mental stress. One in four students aged 30–34 experienced feelings of loneliness, and nearly half of them felt a lack of belonging related to their studies. The risk for female students to develop an eating disorder was 26 percent, and one third of all students used too much alcohol.

Less than half of students exercised enough according to the health-based recommendations for physical activity. On the other hand, even a small amount of physical activity can help with recovery, and those who exercised regularly suffered from fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“Long lectures and independent study, which has increased lately, demand that we pay more attention to physically active studies and taking breaks while studying."

“In addition to varied university sports services we also need physically active studies, as the damage caused by sitting too much cannot be compensated by exercising more. The latest national recommendations for university sports emphasise increased activity in the entire higher education environment, taking breaks from sitting still, and reducing time spent sitting,” OLL’s 1st Vice President Tekla Hahl commented during the Tuloksista tekoihin webinar (From Results to Actions), which was organised on the 14th of March.

“Long lectures and independent study, which has increased lately, demand that we pay more attention to physically active studies and taking breaks while studying. The university community can impact students’ mental wellbeing by taking part in the universities on the move programme and by developing it within their own activities.

“Universities on the move means normal, everyday things: taking a break during a long lecture and not just trying to save time. Technology can also help you get moving while studying,” Hahl stated.

Out of the students who filled out the survey, nearly half have experienced study-related fatigue, signs of which include cynicism, general tiredness, and reduced commitment to studying. The study psychologists and the mental health services within the student healthcare services have been more or less congested throughout the pandemic. According to the health and wellbeing study, students feel like the access to mental health services is insufficient.

“A sense of community affects mental wellbeing. We need varied events for the entire university community, including ones free from the strong impact of the alcohol culture.”

“The best way to promote the ability to study is to support students’ resources and enabling them to develop themselves in varied ways. Apart from their studies, the individual life situations of university students are also made up of other factors such as age, health, family, work, volunteering, and hobbies,” Hahl commented.

“A sense of community affects mental wellbeing. We need varied events for the entire university community, including ones free from the strong impact of the alcohol culture.”

The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (KOTT) collects regular data on the holistic wellbeing of students, as well as their ability to study and their support needs. The 2021 KOTT Survey also examined the impact that Covid-19 has had on the wellbeing of students. THL carried out the study in collaboration with Kela, and it was aimed at students aged 18–34.

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