On 4 October Pernille Steen Pedersen’s second book, based on her research on the relation between stress and shame, was published. Titled “stress og skam i arbejdslivet – en guide til fælles forebyggelse“, which in English translates into “stress and shame in work life – a guide to collective prevention”, Pedersen shares her recent research results and practical suggestions for preventative measures that organizations can implement. A central point in her work is that tackling stress necessitates a collective effort within a given relational culture.
On Friday the 24th September, at 13:30, Pernille Steen Pedersen and Noemi Katznelson sat by the computer ready to answer questions related to stress among students. Videnskab.dk hosted this live-chat for students to have an opportunity to talk directly with two researchers and experts on the topic.
Videnskab.dk later wrote an article (in Danish) “Forskere til pressede studerende: Man skal vide, at det er normalt at være usikker,” summing up the discussions that took place and key take-aways from the live-chat. One central message was that it is normal to feel insecure in one’s study life and stress must not be a taboo. There is a need to speak up more about it, to normalize it and break the silence around it. Furthermore, help and support needs to be easier accessible – and Pedersen emphasized the need for collective solutions.
Early Wednesday morning, the 22. September, Pernille Steen Pedersen was in TV2 News to comment on a new survey that shows, that social and health care workers (in Danish: sosu assistenter) have more sick leave than other professions. Pedersen argued that it has to be seen as a multifaceted problem, and through her research she points at the importance of focusing on good management and establishing a culture of acknowledgement.
The question of how the people – staff, teachers, students etc. – who makes up the study environment together can address the culture that produces such strong experience of anxiety around exams and collectively create a shift in the culture, that is the central focus point of Pedersen’s current research project. “Safe study communities to prevent exam anxiety” was the original title Pedersen gave the chronicle (in danish: ”Trygge studiefællesskaber til at forebygge eksamensangst”), the newspaper renamed it “Researcher: more students are taking anxiety medicine – I have asked them why”.
The reason for Pedersen’s original title is found in her research. Through her work Pedersen has seen across many different organizations and situations that stress can not solely be understood or handled by looking at the individual. Rather, she has found that there are ways to address the practices and culture in an organization that enables these situations that potentially can trigger stress for many people. Pedersen’s current research project “stress and well-being among students at CBS” is financed by CBS as a project that aims to contribute to strategy implementation and aligned with the new strategic visions at CBS. In the chronicle Pedersen shares how the project and CBS as an educational institution seek to focus on creating collective solutions to problems with anxiety and stress. “We need to stand together as an educational institution and think in terms of safety-invoking activities as an essential part of the work with well-being among students,” she writes. Read the article in Berlingske Tidende (in danish) here.
“Shame has a huge implication for student well-being” Pedersen says in the video below, where she introduces the research project and her ideas about collaborating across CBS. Shame, she explains, relates to our relations with each other. Good social connections are so important for well-being, therefore, to address stress she calls for a joint action to “build a more connected culture” at CBS.