Finland has the highest incidence of mental disorders in Europe, with 1 in every 5 people experiencing mental problems at some point in their life. This costs Finland 10 billion euros yearly.
Yet, tens of thousands of people in Finland struggle to access basic mental health care and to receive support when in crisis. A recent study by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) highlighted how people of foreign background face higher risks for mental issues while at the same time accessing appropriate services much less than natives.
Foreign residents, in particular, face a wide array of diverse challenges that impact their mental health negatively. Language and cultural barriers are the main factors preventing them from getting help. Additionally, the combination of a lack of diversity amongst mental health professionals, limited and stringent timings for crisis hotlines, long queueing times, and expensive private treatment are the reasons why mental health support and treatment are difficult to find — especially by the most vulnerable ones. All of these can lead to the devastating hopelessness that “Nobody cares” and can cause unfortunate events.
We are a team of volunteers that came together to change this. On March 6th, 2020 we publish a petition on change.org addressed to the Ministry of Health. We ask them to acknowledge these gaps and grant equitable access to mental health care in Finland for everyone. On the same day, we will launch a social media campaign named #IAmSuomiToo, inviting people to support the cause.
We want to raise awareness on the state of mental health care in Finland and on the barriers placed between people and the help they need. We wish to highlight how modern Finnish society is rich in diversity. This should reflect on the services provided to the population, especially the critical ones such as mental health care.