I am writing this during the Students’ Mental Health week. We have all kinds of theme days and special weeks nowadays. I usually hardly notice them, but I made a note of this week in my calendar. I also posted some pictures and thoughts on this topic on my social media accounts.
“Being a student is the best time in your life, so enjoy it”, I have often said to young people. ”You don’t have the responsibility for work yet. You can freely seek and plan your life and future career. You can spend time with your friends.” I wonder, however, if any young person really shares such idealized view of student life?
I enjoyed my time in high school. I had friends and I loved learning. In our free time we went to services and visited with each other. A group of us even made a few recordings of choral singing in some local churches. But things changed when I started medical school. The responsibility to learn and know things weighed heavily on my mind. I could not take things the easy way, and studying became work.
Maybe the nice fellow students and the joy of learning helped me cope and not feel unduly stressed. But when I was in my third year, my solid career plans changed. We got married. Our first children were born a year later, and from that time on I managed my daily life by just doing what was necessary. We had our third baby around the time I graduated.
In the late 1980s nobody talked about students’ burnout. All of my fellow students graduated, some sooner, some later. I knew many of them needed heavy ways to relax from the hard work, and their humor was often quite dark.
At the present, students’ mental health is widely discussed. Something has clearly changed, as up to one fourth of university students now suffer from mental health problems. This perturbing phenomenon is already emerging in middle schools, high schools and vocational schools. What is it that throws a young person’s mind off balance?
Who would tell young people that they are good and valuable? You are good enough. You can do things and will learn more if you are interested. Dream and plan with courage, try different things. Start at some point and keep going. Choose the kind of work you want to do now. It will likely not be for life anyway.
It is enough to be ordinary, no need to be always the best. Have enough rest and enjoy your normal everyday life. Stay close to your friends.
If you decide to drop out, it is not the end of the world. Take your time and start again. You will catch up when you graduate. If your resources dwindle, seek help. Do not try to cope alone or just with the support of your friends. Trust that there is help available.
What would I say to young myself? Don’t worry and don’t rush. There will be enough time for you to graduate and work even if you drop out for a while to take care of your family. Why the rush anyway? This is your real life. Every sleepy morning, every lunch or dinner break and every evening, the textbook in your hand, the child in your arms. Do not forget your friends and the moments you can share with them. You need them even when you are a mother, a wife and a student.
Text: Mirja Heikkilä
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original Finnish blog post here.
Poikkeusolojen vuoksi radion ja netin välityksellä lähetetyt Suviseurat saivat kuulijoiden palautteen perusteella positiivisen vastaanoton. Historiallisten Suviseurojen järjestelyt sujuivat suunnitelmien mukaisesti, eikä suurempia häiriöitä ilmennyt. Seurojen keskeinen sanoma välittyi kaikkialle maailmaan ja seurapuheet käännettiin yhdeksälle kielelle.