Skövde Municipality’s student health service is being assisted by experts in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Skövde in order to develop skills and strengthen its personnel by incorporating a health-promoting and strength-focused perspective in interviews. “We are extremely pleased with the results”, says Mona Tolonen, who is head of Skövde Municipality’s student health department.
Since 2016, the child and student health service at Skövde Municipality has chosen to develop the skills of its personnel by commissioning contract education from the University of Skövde. This has included basic training, refresher training and in-depth training with HE-credits within the field of strength-based motivational interviews, including empathy and ethics. This autumn, as in previous years, their personnel will be offered strength-focused motivational interviews.
Personnel gain equivalent knowledge
The child and student health service at Skövde Municipality currently has 75 employees, and their objective is that all staff will have knowledge that is as equivalent as possible with regard to encounters with pupils, teachers or guardians.
“The collaboration we have with the University works very well – we have received high-quality training for our personnel that is tailored to our needs, with a lot of advice along the way. We have co-created the contract educational programmes in dialogue with them in order to make them as facilitating and empowering as possible for our personnel, and we are extremely pleased with the results”, says Mona Tolonen.
Skövde Municipality believes that it is important to collaborate with the University of Skövde – partly to promote collaboration between actors in the region, and partly because they have good experience of working together in the past. One example is that personnel have been invited to participate in processes of applied positive psychology during their wellness hour.
“With the help of applied positive psychology, we have been able to work both preventively and to promote health, and many of our staff have been very appreciative”, explains Mona Tolonen, who is head of the child and student health department at Skövde Municipality.
Strengthens motivation for change
Strength-focused motivational interviewing is a collaborative style of conversing that aims to identify and strengthen a person’s own motivation for change. This conversational method is used in applied positive psychology.
“With regard to applied positive psychology, we see how it enhances the well-being of the individual, thereby also having a positive influence on the individual’s immediate environment. In other words, when a person feels better, there is also a positive knock-on effect in the workplace. And in the wake of a pandemic, this is a good tool to invest in, in order to fundamentally strengthen a workplace”, says Monica Bergman, who is a lecturer at the University of Skövde.
The University sees several synergies from the close collaboration it has with Skövde Municipality. One of these is the further development of the cognitive neuroscience programme specialising in applied positive psychology in order to ensure that the students are equipped with the right tools when they enter the labour market. The collaboration also provides access to an important labour market perspective.
“One concrete example is that, following input from Skövde Municipality, we have now incorporated social law into our programmes, as knowledge of social law is essential in order to work as a school welfare officer after graduation. In this way, we adapt our programmes to the knowledge that is in demand, and our students become more attractive in the labour market”, explains Monica Bergman.
Child and student health at Skövde Municipality
The child and student health service at Skövde Municipality has been given the mandate of supporting students’ development towards educational goals. This support encompasses medical, psychosocial and educational considerations. Students are offered advice, support and guidance on most aspects that affect their study and life situation.