Mentally nourishing dining?

I have just sat down with my lunch company. On the plate, there is a colorful, delicious smelling dish. During the tasty meal, a vivid conversation starts. It explores different subjects and draws out everyone’s smile.

Bling! A phone beeps in the bag. It is a sound that interrupts a sentence and forces one to reach for their phone. Suddenly, people around me are immersed in messaging. A moment and another passes. I am waiting.

They say food brings people together. This saying could be completed by stating that food brings people together to a dedicated place. What we do in this dedicated place affects the authenticity of the connection formed between people.

Food culture is complex and multifaceted. Food does not only nourish the physical body and promote wellbeing but at its best, eating together strengthens social relationships and creates emotional bonds and reinforces the sense of community. The specificity of dining comes up in its ability to build not only humans but also the social worlds shared by people.

However, all of this does not happen on its own. We need to be present and listen to each other while dining. We need willingness to hold on to our shared time. A lunchtime marked in a calendar is a precious chance to catch up in each other’s lives and build a caring atmosphere.

On my mind project promotes students’ wellbeing and mentally healthy student culture. In September, the support student activity was initiated and its core idea is to provide students an easy access to someone to talk to. In addition, the project has organized in this past year mental health schooling for both personnel and students. The aim is to normalize talking about issues one faces so that nobody is left alone with their struggles.

Talking about issues can be as easy as asking someone how they are doing or if there is something on their mind. Putting feelings into words is not always easy but interaction skills can evolve with practice; even by checking up on people.

Across the table, the phone quickly slides back into the bag. It is a small deed that means a lot to me. This situation is a great reminder that supporting mental wellbeing is about small acts that together have a greater impact.

Student dining brings people together and connects people if you decide so. Do a mentally nourishing deed: give your phone a break. Focuse on your peers around you.

Have a mentally nourishing dining experience!


Kaisa-Riitta Aho

On My Mind project worker


English translation

Panyi Tran

Support Student