“My goal is for everyone to feel good in their own body”

Solving problems associated with mental health requires collaboration and societal change, says Professor Anna Keski-Rahkonen.

What are your research topics?

I study mental health, particularly the boundaries between the mind and body in adolescents and young adults: eating disorders, body image and sexuality. I want to help people establish a positive relationship with themselves.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

We live in a culture where the body and appearance are enormously important. Even though we usually perceive mental health as symptoms associated with the mind, many people react to setbacks with their body. The body is violated, the body generates distress, the body bears stress and pain, and the body is moulded and trained.

One-tenth of young Finnish adults have suffered from an eating disorder, in addition to which different experiences of body inadequacy or violations of bodily integrity are highly common. The common nature of such symptoms invites us to consider how to provide help to as many as possible. My goal is for everyone to feel good in their own body.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Through broad international collaboration, we are trying to investigate the basic mechanisms of central mental health issues. At the same time, several popular movements have highlighted the significance of people’s personal experiences and peer support as well as the importance of equality. Solving problems associated with mental health requires collaboration and societal change.

Anna Keski-Rahkonen is a professor of mental health at the Faculty of Medicine.

Watch Anna Keski-Rahkonen's inaugural lecture as a new professor on the 7th of September on YouTube.

Read about the other newly appointed professors here.