An increasing number of students are affected by mental health problems. AF Bostäder has run the Help information project since 2019 to help more people get the right support. The initiatives continued in 2021 with education, lectures and film production, as well as preventive leisure activities, which have rapidly become popular.
“Students are a particularly vulnerable group in which more than half are affected,” says Elin Svensson, Social Coordinator at AF Bostäder. “According to Sweden’s Public Health Agency, mental health problems are the most common reason for students to contact a student health centre.”
Mental health problems can be both mental difficulties and mental illness, and encompass everything from feeling down, anxiety and sleeping disorders to depression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.
“Of course, the earlier young people with mental health problems get help, the better it is,” says Elin Svensson. “The subject can be sensitive and shameful, which means it’s difficult to get through. That’s why we are careful that our communication is to be the opposite – simple and straightforward. There is nothing strange about mental health problems and we want to show that there is good help available.”
Help was launched in 2020, initially with a support webpage on AF Bostäder’s website, an information folder and recurrent posts in social media. A training course was soon started for staff in first aid for mental health.
“We are not to treat those who are feeling bad,” says Elin Svensson. “But we are to make it easier for students and staff to act when they encounter mental health problems. It concerns learning to see the signals, daring to say the right things, and contacting the right people. Around half of the staff have completed the training course and everyone will have completed it by the end of 2022. Later, corridor contacts will also be offered the training course.”
“The initiatives have been well-received and during 2021 we have broadened our scope,” says Elin Svensson. “We have recorded six short films with practical advice about what you can do when you meet someone who is feeling bad. The films also offer tips on how you yourself can prevent mental health problems, among other things through good routines regarding food, sleep, exercise, and leisure activities. The films are set to be launched in early 2022.”
AF Bostäder has also invited all tenants to online lectures with the student chaplains. During the lectures, participants could be anonymous, and they all got the chance to have their questions answered.
“Socialising and having an outlet for your creativity together is a way to prevent mental health problems. That’s why we have invited the tenants to play in leagues for indoor football, volleyball and floor ball – run by Lugi Motion. Many have registered teams and we are involved and play as well, which is also a good way to get closer to the students. Looking forward, we are thinking about offering activities such as cooking, music or crafts,” says Elin Svensson.
Latest update June 1, 2022