SLEEPLESS: SHoT survey shows that a big fraction of students admits to be struggling with either insomnia or psyche. \"Emma\" (26) is struggling with both.

“Emma” suffers from depression: SiO’s psychologist could not help

The number of students who admit to be struggling with psychological problems is on a rise. “Emma” (26) was not helped by The Student Welfare Organisation of Oslo and Akershus’s (SiO) Mental health department, and she thinks that it should have been communicated more clearly.

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Last month, we were presented with the results from the SHoT survey (Studentenes helse- og trivselsundersøkelse, or the Students’ Health and Wellbeing Survey). The answers given by the students reveal that over one in four have serious mental problems. One in three also say that they suffer from insomnia.

\"Emma\" has both.

Did not get help

Emma’s days are filled by her studies, while she has been struggling mentally for some time now. She has been diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression, among other things. At the same time, her sleep pattern has been disturbed and she identifies with the survey’s criteria for insomnia.

However, when she reached out to SiO for help in the fall of 2016, she was refused.

\"They replied ‘no’. According to them, my problems were too severe to be treated by them. I did not know how to react to that.\"

Emma had to find a psychologist on her own. It was at that time she got her depression diagnosis. She says she no longer sees her psychologist but has recently gotten a referral from her doctor again, since she had moved in the meantime.

The hours spent at the psychologist’s office have been important for her.

\"I believe everyone could benefit from it. Trying to get help is not a failure.\"

Read more about the shocking SHoT-results: Three out of every ten students have serious mental problems.

Used to it

Emma describes her sleeping problems as a kind of migraine that sometimes keeps her up the whole night.

\"Just yesterday I had to sleep three hours during the day, because I was completely exhausted. The night before that I slept for maybe four hours. My body is often full of energy when I’m about to go to bed, so I carry extra weights on my legs to calm it down.\"

Emma has now started at a new study program and says her mental problems are something she has gotten used to.

\"I have had it for quite many years, so I have learned to deal with it. I am very aware of both my mental and physical health, and I try not to let my state take over my life. I am trying to stay positive and I want to try to fix it.\"

SiO mental health is a low-threshold service

SiO offers a free of charge mental health service, while a 30 to 60 minutes long visit at a state subsidized psychologist costs 351 kroner.

The head of SiO Health, Trond Morten Trondsen, told Universitas that they are not allowed to comment on individual cases, but pointed out that their offer has a low threshold and is directed at students with mild psychological problems.

He then tells us that students who turn to them get a short interview in the week that follows their application.

\"The idea with this interview is making sure the student gets the treatment that best suits his or hers needs. It can be either short-term therapy at the SiO mental health department, or another solution outside SiO’s structures.\"

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The short therapy gives good results

Trondsen says that short-term therapy consists of 10 to 12 consulting hours. Studies show that for two out of three students the results are good.

\"However, we cannot ignore the fact that some students need other types of therapy, over a longer period. We offer them help either through our mental health professionals, through regular doctors, through our advisors or through referring them to specialists. The core goal is supplying each student with the treatment they need, regardless of weather that can be provided within or outside of SiO’s mental health programs.\"

Trond Morten Trondsen says that they are trying to be as clear about that as possible. He stresses that in the case that a student has questions or does not agree with the verdict they receive after the introductory interview, they should contact SiO.

Not clear enough

According to Emma, the fact that SiO psychologists will not always be able to help you is not clear enough.

\"The process one has to go through in order to consult a psychologist is demanding. Especially if one is struggling with their own health. I had to go through it twice. It is extremely important that the information from SiO comes through clearly.\"

\"It is important for us that the patient understands why we cannot always offer them treatment. Not all issues can be treated during short-term therapy, and short-term therapy is what we have to offer.\"

Marte Øien, deputy in Norwegian student organization comments with a reminder that SiO’s offer is meant to only supplement the public health system.

\"We hope that all hosting municipalities read the numbers from SHoT carefully, so that they can give their students the support they need. It is important that the municipalities have good arrangements with educational institutions and student welfare organizations so that students get help with their health issues.\"

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