At Student Health there are contact people and experts who can deal with students who need support. The organisation made huge changes in 2020, when it stopped meeting the students face-to-face.
“At first it was very strange. Now we can have good talks with the students who get in touch with us. But of course it’s better to meet in person.”
How are students dealing with the new situation?
“Some think it’s better. But many find it difficult. You lose your routines and motivation. You become isolated. The ones who come from other places and are looking to establish new contacts in a new city find it especially difficult.”
How can you help?
“We can try to support them. See what they can do to establish routines and, hopefully, help them rediscover their motivation. I think that’s important. It’s a new sort of vulnerability where you don’t have your network of friends and maybe not your family either.”
Have you got any advice?
“Everyone recognises that you can become passive. We might not even do what little we can – a digital meetup or a walk. It doesn’t have to be very complicated, but it requires a different type of effort. In the short term it’s nice to spend time on the couch. But long term, you probably should get in touch with people – perhaps a fellow student.”
What do you think the university can do for its students?
“The lecturer can start the lecture by asking ‘How are you all doing?’. Making sure the students feel welcome, perhaps confirming that he or she knows it’s difficult.”
Gunilla Johansson explains that for many students, the social isolation is the hardest part. For this reason it’s important that the students feel included in a context.
Do the teachers find this difficult?
“We know that many teachers do an awful lot for their students. But I think they’re also stressed, and can sometimes feel uncomfortable. And that they don’t think that things mean as much as they do. Small simple opening phrases can help. People think it has to be so big and so complex, but it doesn’t.”
What does Student Health have to do now?
“Keep communicating that Student Health is available, even in distance mode. The threshold to contact us doesn’t have to be so high. As early as possible, before things get too bad. We have to be present in many different contexts, and keep improving our contact with the students”, says Gunilla Johansson.