TEKin hallituksen puheenjohtaja Mari-Leena Talvitie

Talvitie: Young people need support now – next year will be too late

News article

Chair of TEK’s Board Mari-Leena Talvitie is concerned about students’ wellbeing, especially their mental health. Already every other student is finding it hard to cope. Talvitie opened the meeting of the TEK General Council on 24 March in Pasila.

Already before COVID-19, back in 2019, as many as 41 percent of university students in technology were frequently or constantly worried about their ability to cope. During the second autumn with COVID-19 in 2021, the number had increased up to 51 percent.

– The two years of COVID-19 changed the life of young people dramatically. But when the restrictions were lifted and campuses opened, life did not go back to normal. The war started by Russia in Ukraine cast a new shadow over life, and the shadow of climate change has not gone anywhere. I am concerned particularly about the mental health of young people and their ability to cope. We need to offer our support to young people to help them cope now – next year will be too late, says Chair of TEK’s Board Mari-Leena Talvitie.

Women are more worried about with their ability to cope than men. Of the female respondents to TEK's Student Survey 2021, 68 percent were often or constantly worried about their ability to cope, whereas for men the corresponding figure was 41 percent. According to the survey, only 15 percent of students in technology are not worried about their ability to cope at all.

TEK’s survey indicates that belonging to a minority seems to be related to worries about coping. Up to 76 percent of students belonging to sexual or gender minorities were often or constantly worried about their ability to cope. About three in five students belonging to an ethnic minority shared the same experience.

– We cannot afford to lose a single one of these young hopes for the future while they are still studying. We need each and every one of them. We are suffering from a shortage of talent in Finland as it is. These are some of the reasons why TEK has invested specifically in supporting mental health during the 2021–2022 school year, says Talvitie.

We cannot afford to lose a single one of these young hopes for the future while they are still studying.
- Chair of TEK’s Board Mari-Leena Talvitie

In the school year 2021–22, TEK collaborated with Nyyti ry, an association promoting the mental health of students, to implement a project called mielenTEKoja, which provided both instructed group activities and peer support for students. This work has a long-lasting impact.

– TEK’s Board together with TEK's Youth Committee and student representatives will discuss the coping crisis of students in the beginning of May. We will identify ways in which TEK can continue to support students. We cannot afford to lose a single one of these hopes for the future to disability pension. We need to act now to support students’ ability to cope and communality – and TEK's wide range of student activities also play a major role in this work.

Mari-Leena Talvitie opened the seminar of the spring meeting of the General Council of Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK on 24 March in Pasila, Helsinki. The seminar continued with a presentation of the future scenarios of TEK. Keynote speeches were delivered by Professor of Occupational Health at the University of Eastern Finland Tuula Oksanen, futurist and inventor Perttu Pölönen and Leading Foresight Specialist at Sitra Mikko Dufva. The theme of the seminar was the future of humans and technology.