In one way or another, we all become faced with the war in Ukraine. We are people working and studying at the university but, first and foremost, we are human beings with our unique thoughts and feelings. We all carry our life history and memories with us, and for some, the war may bear a particular significance. Some of us are directly and personally affected by the crisis, while others worry about its consequences for society and the world.
None of us can escape the graphic images of the war, and our emotions may overwhelm us. The general mood and atmosphere are inevitably affected by the stress and concern. It is important that we don’t treat each other based on beliefs or assumptions of our nationality or any other factor related to our background. We can, as a community, take the time to listen and understand one another.
It is natural to feel concerned in a concerning situation. Unexpected emotions may arise, and under stress, we may even be surprised by own behaviour. It is okay to stop and listen to our feelings and thoughts of concern. It is also good to talk about them with the people that are close to us, including our co-workers and fellow students. Yet, it is also important to limit our exposure to the news.
There has been a lot of information in the media about how important it is to strengthen children’s sense of security. Strengthening the same kind of sense of security is worthwhile also for us adults, and within our community. Ordinary everyday things, hobbies and routines are good for calming one’s mind.
Fostering compassionate interaction as part of our work and study culture is particularly important right now. Communicating encouragement and caring will alleviate tensions, both of the body and of the mind.
We can foster compassion in our community by doing these simple things:
We ask one another about how we are doing and feeling.
We can take a moment to listen to one another.
We can ask how we can help with small things.
We can speak nicely and with compassion to ourselves.
We should also remember our need to recover and be present for the people close to us.
All normal support services are available to our community to support student and staff well-being. Especially worth mentioning are the Finnish Student Health Service, FSHS, and the Student2Student service providing peer counselling: https://kamu.uef.fi/en/tietopankki/assistance-advice-and-crisis-situations/student2student-peer-counselling/. Members of the staff, on the other hand, shouldn’t hesitate to contact occupational health care: https://www.terveystalo.com/en/.
Campus pastors are also available for personal conversation: https://kamu.uef.fi/en/tietopankki/well-being/campus-pastors/
Other good sources of support include the Mieli Mental Health Finland’s website at https://mieli.fi/en/ (also available in Russian and Arabic), and the website of the Finnish Red Cross at https://www.redcross.fi/get-help-and-support/.
You may also want to contact the Crisis Helpline by calling +358 925250113.
The following websites provide good advice on how to deal with these issues. Additionally, as these issues may cause concern among young ones close to you, these websites provide information on how discuss the war with children and adolescents.
Study Psychologist, UEF