Mental health problems are becoming more common and students are a particularly vulnerable group. Therefore, AF Bostäder wants to find out more about how student housing can affect health, and whether students can feel better depending on how they choose to live. The company has allowed two students on the psychology programme to examine the links between housing environment and mental health.
In a degree project at Lund University’s Department of Psychology, Sonja Ohtonen and Hanna Carlgren investigated how students at AF Bostäder are thriving in their housing based on physical and social aspects, as well as the connection between thriving and perceived mental health.
“We know that more than half of Sweden’s students are affected by mental health problems, which is why we work a lot on social sustainability issues,” says Elin Svensson, Social Coordinator at AF Bostäder. “This means investments in areas such as spaces for socialising, pleasant outdoor environments, caretaker activities, health promotion and our information project, Help. However, we need to know more about how our core activity – housing – affects the students, and we saw a good opportunity when Sonja and Hanna wanted to carry out their study with us.”
The results show, among other things, that overall the students are thriving regarding their housing and the associated services, and that there is a link between thriving and mental wellbeing. Students in shared apartments are most satisfied with their housing and experience more health benefits such as better mental health, better recovery and stronger emotional ties to their housing. Students on their own in an apartment are the loneliest.
On corridors, more than half state that their wellbeing is affected positively by the housing. Those who had lived on a corridor for a long period are more satisfied with the social aspects than newer tenants. International students on a corridor experience fewer social benefits than Swedish students.
“First and foremost, it’s good that we have had confirmation that the initiatives we carry out regarding apartments for friends is totally right,” says Elin Svensson. “The same goes for our work on spaces for socialising and activities. However, new questions have been raised. Most of those applying to us for housing want to live on their own in their own apartment. Here, perhaps we must think about how we are to match students’ needs with the right housing, not just on the basis of availability and price, but also from a health perspective. Should we change something in our offering or in our way of communicating with students? In the same way, we need to know more about the perceived differences between different types of accommodation, what this is due to and what we can do to improve the situation. Moving forward, we will examine possibilities to deepen our knowledge.”
“It’s positive that around half of our tenants know about our Help information, even though it has only been in place for a couple of years, and that many would consider using it. However, it’s important that we continue to reach out, so that even more students know who they can contact to get help,” says Elin Svensson.
Latest update June 9, 2023