Peer support model for mental health for all faculties of the University of Turku
On My Mind Project promotes the ability of students and staff to support and guide students through peer support in a variety of mental health issues.
The project expands the student peer support activities launched by The Association of the Economic Students in Turku to all faculties of the university. In 2021, the project will actively develop new forms of practices in cooperation with faculties and student organisations.
The On My Mind project is implemented through a unique, close collaboration between the University of Turku and Student Union of University of Turku (TYY). These organizations jointly applied for funding for the project in 2020. The Ministry of Education and Culture granted a total of 107,000 euros to the project.
The strength of this project is the utilization of student perspective. By incorporating the student perspective into planning and implementation, for example, faculty-specific differences can be better taken into account.
The project has three main priorities:
- Promote early access to mental health support services at low threshold
- Breaking down prejudices and stigmas related to mental health issues
- Sharing good practices that promote the well-being of students
Support student activities will start in the autumn 2021
The goal is that nobody is left alone with their worries and difficulties. The conversational help provided by support students is invaluable in the university community, especially in the current period of uncertainty.
Support students receive training before peer support activities begin. They participate in Mental Health First Aid (MTEA2) training. The training includes two contact learning days (2x 3 h) and self-study assignments. In addition, they will have comprehensive support materials to utilize.
What do support students do?
- They promote community spirit and social interaction between students by setting an example with their own unique ways.
- They are volunteers who provide conversational support to fellow students using their own experiences and strengths.
- For example, they can provide help finding new hobbies or appropriate study support services. Support students do not work as health care professionals but they know where to find suitable professional help if it is needed.
- They meet fellow students on campus at various events and participate in organizing activities that promote well-being. Basically, support student activity is face-to-face interaction and collaboration.
- They participate in joint meetings of support students, where they exchange information, receive briefings from experts and develop support student activities further.
How to contact a support student?
- The project is going to get a new website and from there you will find a contact form through which a contact request can be submitted for support students. You can select the topics that you would like to discuss. The support student, whose areas of strength are best suited to the named topics, will contact the student within approximately ten days (with the exception of vacation periods).
- After this, you can plan with the support student how to continue and where to meet.
Find out more in social media
The project has its own account on Instagram: @mielen_paalla. Join in and get weekly tips for well-being and studying! The account gives you also information of the progress of the project and challenges you to participate in the discussion.
Developing well-being together
The project conducted a student mental health survey in the spring of 2021. We received more than 800 responses! The survey collected information on the needs of students at the University of Turku in relation to mental health issues.
The results will be used to target the project and assess the effectiveness of the activities. The results of the survey will be published in the autumn. The progress of reporting can be followed on the project website and the project's Twitter account @MielenpaallaTku.
With the idea paper that is open throughout the project both staff and students can anonymously share their own suggestions on what kind of content should be developed in this project. All ideas are welcome!
Kaisa-Riitta Aho, The Student Union of the University of Turku, project worker
tel. +358 44 491 5663
Heidi Vuoristo, University of Turku, project designer
tel. +358 29 450 2623, +358 50 303 8922