In Lempäälä high school, Finland, a large wellbeing project has been initiated. It aims to give the students practical tools to manage both their physical and mental well-being better. The pilot group in the fall 2018 had the possibility for a 2 week Moodmetric measurement. Surprisingly high stress levels were measured both with students and teachers.
Society and the working life expectations are transforming. The world we and our kids live in is changing every day and this all requires constant adaptation. According to Psychology Today, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.
Practical approach to better well-being of students
The teachers in Lempäälä high school, Finland, have understood that things cannot be done as in the past. Finnish core curriculum for basic education is on excellent level and under continuous scrutiny to match the future requirements for today´s youth.
But in Lempäälä they want to cover more than the basic agenda. They want to support the students to find their strengths and hidden talents early on. Better self-awareness and understanding of what is best for myself are needed in the world of information flow and continuous stimulus. Own place within society and working life seems to be more and more difficult to plan and the feeling of insecurity can be stressful. A good self-understanding helps to make right choices in life.
Jarmo Lehtinen is a teacher who wants to equip the students in the best possible way for the future working life – and life. – We learn by doing, we execute a lot of practical projects and try new things, we are not here just for theoretizing. The students are creative and innovative in a group they know and can trust. In it, it´s easy to get to know also difficult and hard topics.
Students are motivated to make actions for better well-being
In the fall 2018 the personal well-being has been in focus. – They say that we should be careful not to put too much pressure on the students. But the future will be very demanding, there will be a lot of things that need adaptation. We are learning stress management proactively, says Jarmo Lehtinen. – In media they discuss a lot of how young people are tired of school. I’d sat it’s not just school, but all the other things beside it, too. The whole life can be tiring these days. That’s why we need to aim for balance in everything, Lehtinen continues.
Lempäälä high school has taken a holistic approach to well-being. Everybody knows by now the 8+8+8 model. It means that there should be work, free time and rest in right proportions in the day. Sleep, exercise and stress management have been covered in a project led by an external coach, Pertti Ratilainen.
Before the project the teachers agreed that there should be tangible measured data. This would be important both in getting a good picture on well-being of the students but also in ensuring funding for the project. The Moodmetric smart ring measurement was chosen for a 2 week period for everyone participating in the pilot project. The measurements were done in October and the pilot was concluded in December.
What was learned from the Moodmetric measurement?
Students Karita Tanni and Kristian Haapalehto were glad to take part in the measurement. – I really looked forward to the measurement, I wanted more information of how my body works. When I got the ring, it was really interesting to follow the real time data, Karita Tanni.
The Moodmetric measurement data shows what stresses out and what calms down. For high school students it was surprising how strongly the mind could react and how it could stay active for a long time. On the other hand, a good focus on homework was well shown as low Moodmetric numbers. Relaxed states were also measured e.g. while driving or spending time with friends. These were the positive learnings that the students learned to look for. – With the Moodmetric measurement, I found ways how not to stress, says Kristian Haapalehto.
Also the teachers got interested in the measurement
The Moodmetric measurement was in the beginning intended just for the students, but the teachers wanted to participate as well. We wanted to show the principal, how stressful our work is, laughs Jarmo Lehtinen. – For students it was a surprise how many loading factors there were outside of school. For teachers the challenges of everyday life were more familiar. Jarmo Lehtinen gives an example: -We have a puppy now, which already makes a big impact for how much sleep I am getting – or not getting!
According to the Moodmetric measurement the school days have been quite active for both the students and the teachers. This can be a sign of enthusiasm, and of the joy of learning new things. High levels can also be a sign of negative stress. This would mean high Moodmetric levels combined with general negative experienced mood. In these cases it would be the most important to look for moments of recovery.
Many were surprised to see how different the nights were from one to another. – One night was not similar to another. The most valuable insight personally was how much I can do myself to sleep better. What I do during the day and evening has a huge impact on sleep. Watching a soccer game where my team finally lost was not the best preparing for the night, grins Lehtinen.
Do I have the will power to change my habits?
Young adults are very well aware of the factors affecting their well-being. Good habits have been discussed at home – the parents remind of the bedtime and try to limit the time spent on smartphone.
Knowing what is good for us is not enough. The difficult part is to change habits for better wellbeing, says Pertti Ratilainen. -This is difficult especially to adults! Even a small increase to sleep or outdoor activity seems to be very difficult to do.
The students of the Lempäälä high school show that they can do better.
During the project, 80% of the participants made positive changes for their own well-being.
This is just a beginning, says Jarmo Lehtinen. – We are planning a much larger project for the future. We aim to include every 1. and 2. year student to be active for their own well-being. The effects of the products we expect to see in learning and school work immediately. In long term, it would be great to provide these students practical well-being tools for the entire life.