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One-third of Finnish students suffer from anxiety, depression symptoms

One-third of higher education students in Finland suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a survey.

One-third of Finnish students suffer from anxiety, depression symptoms
Image Courtesy: IANS

The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey released here on Monday showed that higher education students have proportionally more mental health symptoms and psychological problems than the rest of the adult population in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

Forty per cent of female students reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, while 28 per cent of male respondents said that they had such symptoms. 

Both diagnosed depression and diagnosed anxiety were more common in women than in men, and women's risk of developing an eating disorder was threefold compared to men, according to the survey.

The research was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), in cooperation with the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).

Jaana Suvisaari, research professor at THL, said that behind these symptoms, those students may have mental health problems that require treatment. 

"Action must be taken to deal with the problems that cause the symptoms," Suvisaari added.

Kaloliina, a student at Hanken School of Economic, told Xinhua that most students in Finland need to work. Struggling to balance studying and working could be one of the sources of pressure.

Suvisaari said distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic had reduced the sense of community, adding that the lack of support provided by study groups makes studying more difficult, especially for young higher education students.

 Experts at THL and Kela are concerned about the high prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression among university students, suggesting that physical activities, sufficient sleep, and social contact could help alleviate symptoms.

"It is important that students receive support from higher education institutions and are involved in the activities of student organisations and other communities. It is equally important to maintain a healthy lifestyle," says Suvi Parikka, Development Manager at THL.

Suvisaari called on teaching staff at higher education institutions to have more contact with students.

"Face-to-face encounters are particularly important for those students whose psychological distress is caused by study difficulties resulting from distance learning," she pointed out.

The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2021 was carried out between February and March 2021 during the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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