Where it all began
Idea is born
University teacher Helena Rusanen noticed the struggles of the economics students: several students could not keep up and their studies did not progress well. That is why she started developing a method where she could provide support to students in life management and studies. The results were promising so she suggested to the dean of the School of Economics that this model should be extended to other faculties.
Meanwhile, Samuli Tähtinen and Aku Lehojärvi were elected to the board of the Association of Economics Students in Turku (TuKY). Their aim was to improve students’ mental wellbeing. They both had noticed that exhaustion among students was common even though it was not talked about. The fierce competition of the field and the pressure to succeed in studies experienced by the students framed the challenges of wellbeing.
Helena Rusanen, Samuli Tähtinen and Aku Lehojärvinen have all actively raised concerns on the mental health of students and soon decided to work together on this issue.
Conversation and development
At first, the idea was to ensure enough professional help that was available for the economics students. Conversations with the experts lead to the realisation that through this project help could be provided on a low threshold basis. Rusanen stressed that help should be brought close to the students. When students can talk about their issues early on, the need for professional help might decrease noticeably.
The development of the project started as charity work even though it took a lot of working hours. Later on, a Universitas Turku -project money was granted by the University of Turku and the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY). This enabled further development of the project and the making of the students’ mental health survey. Over 300 answers were received: almost half of the responders felt that their studies were harsh at times.
Terve mieli project starts
In the spring of 2019 TuKY launched a Terve mieli project lead by Tähtinen and Lehojärvi. In the project, they decided to focuse on grassroots level activity where volunteer students’ role was central. An anonymous discussion platform was created for the members of the TuKY to provide a safe place where thoughts and concerns could be shared.
The second aim of the platform was to inform students on the different support services on hand. As a part of the project a mental health course was organised for people associated with TuKY. The School of Economics mentors, tutors and thesis directors were also provided with guidance on wellbeing issues.
In addition, a website regarding mental health topics was launched for the students of the School of Economics.
Collaboration and expansion efforts
When the project’s core idea was formed, many parties offered their help. The public support from the personnel of the School of Economics brought credibility to the project. Together with the different parties involved, a steering group was formed to ensure the continuity of the project.
The project was expanded to a national level, because mental health challenges do not only concern students of the Turku School of Economics. Thereafter the student organizations of the economics field have launched their own mental health projects based on the Terve mieli project.
In autumn 2020, the Finnish Business School Graduates gave their support to economics students associations for organizing mental health first aid courses. During mental health week, they also took part in communicating about mental health topics in cooperation with students and experts.
On my mind project begins with funding
Terve mieli project in cooperation with the Student Union of the University of Turku and University of Turku was granted 107 000 euros in funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture for the year 2021. For the grant application the main aim of the project was formed: to instill the same support student model in Turku School of Economics to every single faculty in University of Turku. The grant is a blessing and allows the project to expand at a fast rate.
For the project, the Student Union of the University of Turku hired an employee who worked closely with the project director of University of Turku. In April 2021, the project was renamed On my mind and a kick-off event was organized on the students’ mental health day on 22nd of April. During the spring, the students’ mental health survey was opened and the recruitment of support students was initiated. In Autumn 2021 the project’s website was launched with the support student contact forms.