Business Needs Healthy Professionals – Suomen Ekonomit

By Jari Elo (Director at The Finnish Business School Graduates)

 

Business school graduates work in socially significant positions, ranging from assistants to executives.
Business professionals are valued and needed for their expertise, but what happens when students begin
to feel unwell?

When the network for business student chairpersons (KPV) asked us to get involved in a project to promote
mental health among students, we agreed immediately. Local student associations began training their
own active members through mental health first aid courses, while efforts were made to increase
discussion about the challenges of mental health at the local level among students. Not only is the theme of
special social importance, but we also find that it is essential to participate in these kinds of activities to
ensure that as few students as possible have to suffer from exhaustion or other challenges related to
mental health.

 

Who will comfort the weary student?

Studies impose a heavy burden on students, who also have to focus on finding employment and
accumulating work experience. Days can often extend late into the night as deadlines loom. Yet, you also
need to find the time look after yourself. This equation, which most business students are faced with, can
get quite challenging. It is always wonderful to see people demonstrate their skill and succeed, but the
price must also be considered. The Finnish Business School Graduates is very concerned about the
increasing number of students suffering of exhaustion and even burnout – not only because business needs
young professional working at their full capacity, but also because mental well-being is just as important as
physical health.

Effective pre-emptive action can help prevent exhaustion and mental health issues. This is why problems
must be addressed as early on as possible. Tools and information must be available at all times to those
who need it. The Finnish Business School Graduates provides career coaches to help deal with the
pressures of job seeking and accumulating work experience. An example is the recently opened summer
job service for students, which received excellent feedback last year. The site provides assistance for
writing a CV and application, preparing for a job interview, identifying and articulating your own expertise,
and finding the more hidden jobs and opportunities. The service is already available in Finnish and will be
made available in English and Swedish at the turn of the year. Students will be able access and use the
content of the summer job service whenever they wish throughout the spring season.

 

“I actually managed to secure two summer jobs in my field, so I got to pick my preference. I
don’t think I could have done as well without your tips, so thank you!”
– Feedback about the summer job service (2020)

 

Strong stigma persists among business school graduates

In the 2020s, you would think that most things can be talked about openly and even with pride. However,
this does not seem to apply to mental health issues. Some have had the courage to tell their story and
encourage others to be more open, which is a wonderful thing. That said, a few examples only take us part
of the way. In addition to more information and discussion, we need a change in atmosphere and
attitudes. Suffering from exhaustion or depression does not make you any worse or less important than
anyone else. These difficulties do not make anyone a less accomplished employee or executive. This is
something we need to acknowledge among business school graduates, too.

Not everything can be measured in money, even in the business sector. We can talk about what sick leave
arrangements and efficiency calculations cost to companies but, in all actuality, you cannot put a price on
mental health. There is no way to quantify something as immeasurably important.
We must all take care of our mental well-being and each other. The business sector as well as our families,
loved ones, hobby communities and society at large all need healthy business professionals.