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Grant recipients wish for support in managing stress and mental strain

This spring Mela conducted a survey to find out the views of grant recipients regarding what measures would best support their occupational wellbeing. According to the results of the survey, grant recipients wish above all for measures that would support their psychological ability to work and help them manage stress. The survey also highlighted the importance of peer support and a wish for Wellbeing Days. There were slight differences in emphasis in the responses of scientific and artistic grant recipients. Whereas grant recipients in the fields of the arts called for significantly more support for maintaining their physical work ability, grant recipients in the fields of the sciences highlighted the importance of training in self leadership and stress management.

Altogether 403 grant recipients responded to the survey: 69% in the fields of the sciences and 31% in the fields of the arts. The respondents were asked what measures they believed would best support the occupational wellbeing of grant recipients, as well as what services they would wish from Mela in the future. The survey included both multiple choice and open questions.

Motivation, professional expertise and sufficiently long funding identified as being the most important cornerstones for occupational wellbeing

In the responses given by the grant recipients, the most important factors regarding their own occupational wellbeing included personal motivation to work, inspiring work content and sufficiently long funding. In addition, self leadership skills were highlighted, such as life management and looking after one’s own health.

“The most important factors are personal motivation and a positive future outlook. Grant recipients are nevertheless generally very much alone in their work, so some kind of peer support, rehabilitation, training, etc. would be good to get so long as it did not take an unreasonable amount of your own resources or working time to get them.”

Many of the responses suggested that grant recipients feel they have unequal status compared to others. The lack of one’s own workroom and employee benefits, especially the lack of occupational healthcare services, appear to have a damaging effect on the occupational wellbeing of many grant recipients. Many of the responses expressed a wish for organising occupational healthcare services.

“Working as a grant recipient can be tough if you feel excluded from the work community at the university and in a “lower” position than your work colleagues, for example in terms of occupational healthcare services, staff canteens or workspace. If would be great if universities were more willing to integrate grant recipients with the work community through concrete deeds.”

Grant recipients wish for training to support both their psychological and physical work ability

According to the results of the survey, grant recipients wish for training designed to maintain above all their psychological work ability. Such a wish was expressed by two-thirds of artistic grant recipients and around three-fifths of scientific grant recipients. In particular, they wished for support for stress management and self leadership. Artistic grant recipients also highlighted a wish for support for their physical work ability, as 60% of respondents wished for training to help them maintain their physical work ability.

In addition, grant recipients wished for thematic Wellbeing Days that would offer a wide range of seminars, recreational activities and peer support. Peer support is considered particularly important, as grant work is usually carried out alone and without the support of traditional work communities.

“Seminars/wellbeing days would be interesting and surely also reassuring. The work of a grant researcher is extremely lonely and psychologically very demanding, so it would be great to meet peer groups and share expertise and ideas about being a researcher. This would serve as a form of connecting with the work community (which does not exist in our daily work), in addition to which I would love to hear expert talks and comments about stress management and occupational wellbeing.”

Customer wishes guide the development of Mela’s occupational wellbeing services

Mela will be introducing occupational wellbeing services also for grant recipients in the near future. These services are being planned on the basis of the survey results during the course of this year. Some of the wishes will be responded to immediately.

“There was a clear wish among the respondents for training in stress management and self leadership. Accordingly, we are organising this autumn already a special theme day for grant researchers. The date that has been set is 4 October and the venue will be the House of Science and Letteres in Helsinki. Next year we will organise a similar event for artistic grant recipients,” says Pirjo Saari, Head of the Occupational Wellbeing Team at Mela.

Saari adds that Mela is also responding to the call for peer support activities.

“Mela is funding an occupational wellbeing project facilitated by TJS-Opintokeskus. Peer support groups were formed this spring and will convene in five different university towns in Finland. The experiences from this project will then help us plan similar peer support activities in the future,” Saari says.

Updates about our Wellbeing Day next autumn and other occupational wellbeing activities will be posted on Mela’s website.

Further information:
Pirjo Saari, Head of the Occupational Wellbeing Team, Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution Mela, tel. +358 400 341 390

Survey Results: Grant recipients wish for support in managing stress and mental strain

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