In connection with the municipal elections, we will publish a series of blogs in which the political student organizations of the parliamentary parties will take a stand on mental health policy. At Nyyti, we want to increase the social debate on mental health and thus increase the turnout. You can find out about Nyyti’s municipal election goals here. You can also find a more detailed election schedule on the page.

Young People’s Mental Health Is Being Tested – Mental Health Services Lag Behind

Penkkarit, the traditional yearly celebration among Finnish upper secondary school students preparing for their matriculation exams, has been cancelled. Distance learning in social isolation continues. Psychological well-being is taking a dive, and it takes months to get help. This is what life is like for students in upper secondary schools, vocational institutions, and higher learning institutions.

Our generation is being robbed of its youth. Memorable experiences are being replaced with a laptop screen and four walls. We crave support, conversations, and making memories with friends. We don’t need more Zoom classes, where we gaze out of a window. Yet, we have to be responsible with preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Our safety and the safety of our loved ones trump everything else.

Still, our mental health is being put to a test. The current waiting period for mental health services can be months, and not enough low-threshold counselling is available. Our resources simply don’t cut it, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse. From the perspective of an emerging working population, it is also alarming that 50 percent of disability pensions in 2018 were a result of mental health issues. Meanwhile, only five percent of healthcare funds go towards mental health services.

This has got to change! The City of Tampere must in its own right invest in pre-emptive services, such as mobile youth work and Ohjaamo counselling services. The youth in need must be reached as soon as possible so that no one falls to the sidelines in our society and help is available to those who need it.

Our goal should be to have each person-in-need’s therapeutic needs assessed by a primary healthcare professional within three days of contacting help services. When it’s necessary to proceed with treatments, they should begin within four weeks of the assessment. This would promote an early intervention in mental health issues through a high-quality, timely admittance to care. The availability of mental health services must be improved, and in the long run, they should be forged into a solid part of our primary healthcare.

Mental health services should be accessible to everyone, regardless of how fat one’s pockets are. This goal is supported by a citizens’ initiative to make psychotherapist training tuition-free. The need for psychotherapy has increased over the years, but the number of professional psychotherapists has not grown to match it. I sincerely hope that our nation’s leaders approve the citizens’ initiative as part of a solution.

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