Campus - 22.04.2024 - 13:17 

HSG students commit to an association for mental health

With the Elevated Psychology Network, HSG students want to empower others to look after their own mental health. The student association is one of various current initiatives at the HSG that are focussing on this topic.

Many people think of founding a start-up as a great adventure: You are your own boss, can realise ideas, work where and when you want and meet interesting people. "These aspects are part of it - but at the same time, founders are a professional group that is heavily affected by burnout, depression and anxiety," says HSG graduate and multiple founder Terence La.

In 2022, the 30-year-old appeared on the Forbes business magazine's "30 under 30" list thanks to his work in various start-ups, including perseedU. La became aware of mental health challenges during his own work in various start-ups. He then interviewed 80 startup founders for his HSG Master's thesis on how they deal with psychological pressure. This motivated him to found the "Elevated Psychology Network" in 2021; one of around 140 student associations at the University of St.Gallen.

The network aims to provide students and young professionals with tools to maintain their own mental health and develop personally. "We also impart knowledge in the field of business psychology. This involves, for example, how to communicate and negotiate effectively, deal with work stress or resolve team conflicts," says La.

Awareness of mental health is growing among HSG students

The association has over 80 members, says Miguel Riederer, current President of the Elevated Psychology Network. Several hundred students have already taken part in the "Mental Health Days" organised by the association together with the student body in recent years. "This shows that awareness of the importance of mental health is also growing among HSG students," says Riederer. Students are sometimes under great pressure to perform and work to tight deadlines. For example, 73 per cent of all students in Switzerland work part-time alongside their full-time studies.

"Both in the professional world and among students, there is a culture that emphasises doing even more and working even harder. Our approach, on the other hand, is to regularly take a step back and reflect on what really makes sense," says Riederer.

On 22 and 23 April 2024, the network is now inviting people to the "PsyDays" at SQUARE. Under the direction of club member Marina Herry, the two days are positioning themselves as a new flagship event that takes a holistic approach to psychology. HSG alumni and company founders Lukas Wohlgemuth, Adrien Fernandez, David Geisser and Karin Stephan, founder of a mental health start-up, will be among those discussing how entrepreneurship and mental health interact. Nicole Rosales, Head of Corporate Health Management at Raiffeisen, will also give an insight into her area in a presentation.

The network is also inviting the Toastmasters St.Gallen association: Students meet once a week to practise presentations in front of an audience. At the PsyDays, its members will give short inputs on mental health and well-being, which will then be explored in greater depth in small groups.

Students and researchers at HSG work on mental health

The Elevated Psychology Network is one of various current initiatives and projects at the HSG that focus on the importance of mental health: In autumn 2023, for example, students launched the MyMindMatters campaign, which shared tips for improving one's own health and held mindfulness events for students. Various counselling centres for personal, study-related and professional questions and problems have also been tried and tested at the HSG for a long time.

And last but not least, HSG researchers are also intensively dedicated to the question of how digital technologies can improve health. Clemens Stachl, HSG Professor of Behavioural Science, is currently heading the international research project ACTWELL. In this project, which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), researchers from a wide range of universities are jointly analysing digital behavioural data from smartphones. "We want to develop a better understanding of how daily behaviour and individual well-being are connected," says Stachl.

And in the coaching programme, the HSG supports its first-year students specifically in developing their personality. Terence La also completed the programme - "among other things, it also inspired me to found the network," says the HSG graduate, who is now involved as a coach for students himself.

Discover our special topics