Students’ Independence Day Torchlight Procession on 6 December 2019 spotlights students’ wellbeing and mental health


Students of the Capital Region celebrate the independence of the 102-year-old Finland in the Independence Day Torchlight Procession on 6 December 2019.


This year, the student unions of the Capital Region celebrate Independence Day on 6 December 2019, with the traditional torches illuminating the Independence Day procession and the public celebration at the Senate Square. The event is organised by the student unions of the Capital Region: HYY, AYY, ArtSU, SHS, METKA, Helga and Kadettitoverikunta. The theme of this year’s procession is students’ wellbeing and mental health, which has also been a prominent topic in public discussion throughout the year.

‘Accessible mental health services are important for the prevention of students’ mental health problems’, explains Chair of the Board of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki Laura Wathén. One third of higher education students experience challenges related to mental health, while waiting times for study psychologists and public services are long. Mental health services should be quickly accessible and available close to students.

‘The demand set out by the widely-discussed citizens’ initiative on immediate access to therapy – that treatment should be arranged within four weeks – is in line with the Student Union’s long-term goals, as well’, Member of HYY’s Board Riikka Hakala states. The student movement also wishes that the needs of higher education students would be taken into account in the mental health strategy being prepared by Rinne’s government as well as the mental health programme that will be made based on the strategy.

The festivities of the torchlight procession begin with the placing of wreaths at Sankariristi at the Hietaniemi cemetery at 4 pm.

The procession starts off from the Hietaniemi Chapel at the cemetery at around 5 pm, and its route is as follows: Hietaniemenkatu – Arkadiankatu – Pohjoisesplanadi – Presidential Palace – Mariankatu – Aleksanterinkatu – Senate Square. The President of the Republic will greet the procession from the Palace balcony.

A public celebration is held at the Senate Square from around 5.55 to 6.15 pm. The programme includes choral singing and the speeches of Mayor Jan Vapaavuori and representatives of the student unions.

The first Students’ Torchlight Procession was organised in 1951. Back then, too, the occasion began with placing wreaths at the soldiers’ graves, after which 2,000 students marched to the Senate Square to listen to speeches and choirs.


The event is organised by the Aalto University Student Union (AYY), the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), the University of the Arts Student Union (ArtSU), the Student Union of Hanken School of Economics (SHS), the Student Union of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (Metka), Haaga-Helia’s Student Union (Helga) and Kadettitoverikunta.



Further information and requests for interviews:

Riikka Hakala

Member of HYY’s Board


050 325 8041