An important factor in explaining students 'mental illness has to do with students' work environment. A substandard work environment can, for example, mean that students are given poor conditions to reach the requirements of the education, that there is a lack of resources, that there is very fierce competition between students or that students do not receive sufficient support from teachers and fellow students. These risk factors can in turn lead to stress, anxiety and worry.
In order for students not to suffer from ill health in connection with their education, it is important that all universities and colleges conduct systematic work environment work where the students' work environment is continuously examined and risks are addressed and followed up. The systematic work environment work is regulated by the Work Environment Act and shall cover all students at universities and colleges. However, SFS believes that the work needs to be given higher priority.
Sexual harassment is an aspect of students' work environment that must be taken seriously. The issues are not regulated in the Work Environment Act but in the Discrimination Act. However, SFS believes that the issues are related and believes that higher education institutions need to work actively to prevent sexual harassment, discrimination and abusive discrimination as part of the systematic work environment work. Since the #metoo autumn 2017, development work has been underway in this area at many universities.
Students who suffer from ill health need access to good care. In addition to primary care, there is student health care, which is often the first instance the students turn to when they are unwell. SFS believes that the student health service's mission needs to be clarified, so that all students know when to turn to student health care or primary care. This is something that the University Chancellor's Office is currently investigating and will report on in December 2020. In addition, it is important that student health care has sufficient resources.
The students who have been on sick leave also need to be able to get help with the return to studies, the so-called study-oriented rehabilitation. All higher education institutions have a rehabilitation responsibility through the Work Environment Act. However, SFS believes that the information about the rehabilitation efforts needs to be better and that more can be done. It is about giving students the opportunity for individual study plans and other support to catch up when they have missed courses during the sick leave period. It is also more generally about offering support to facilitate the return to studies.
To strengthen the students' work environment, SFS has, among other things:
- Released the report Work environment work in higher education
- Worked to clarify the mission of student health
- Organized seminar on the prevention of sexual harassment
- Trained student safety representative who monitors the higher education institutions' work environment work
- Worked for the government to include students in the new work environment strategy that will come at the end of 2020.