Students are today expressing their concerns about the adequacy of resources and funding in student healthcare at demonstrations in Jyväskylä, Tampere, Lappeenranta, Joensuu, Kuopio and Rovaniemi. The demonstrations, organised by the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä (JYY), are timed to take place on Students’ Mental Health Day, 13 April, to show that students are particularly concerned about the adequacy of mental health resources.
According to student union estimates, hundreds of students in higher education are going to attend the demonstrations. Students will wear their student overalls and gather in town centres where they will form queues to symbolise the long waiting times to get help.
“The demonstrations are not targeted against FSHS services, activities or staff. We consider FSHS services good but resources inadequate in relation to the number of students in higher education. We demand more funding for student healthcare as well as better access to mental health services,” says Fanni Rantala, expert in social policy and member of the Board of Executives at JYY.
High demand means longer waiting times
The student protests are for an important cause. Demand for mental health services in particular has increased, and adequate provision of these services has been a challenge nationwide. In 2019, 23 students out of every 1,000 used mental health services, whereas the current number is 45/1,000. This year between January and March about 20,000 students have already sought help for mental health reasons.
“The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health awarded the FSHS a government grant to support the well-being of students in higher education during the coronavirus pandemic. This short-term extra funding has helped us to increase the number of services this year. But it does not solve the lack of resources needed for our basic activities or allow us to provide enough mental health services in the long term if demand remains high,” says Katariina Poskiparta, Managing Director at the FSHS.