MoniSuomi survey: Psychological distress has increased in the immigrant population and access to a doctor has become more difficult

Publication date 14 Jun 2023

Getting an appointment with a doctor has become significantly more difficult for the immigrant population over the past four years. THL’s recent MoniSuomi survey reveals that one in three immigrants currently find they do not receive sufficient doctor’s appointment services to meet their need.

There are differences between specific groups of countries in the results concerning doctor’s appointment services but the situation has declined significantly for immigrants from countries such as Russia, the former Soviet Union and Estonia since 2019: from 26 to 36 per cent among those who have moved from Russia and from 20 to 34 per cent among those who have moved from Estonia.

“Long queues, the client fees, lack of knowledge of the services and insufficient language skills are examples of the reasons why the services are found insufficient. The discrimination immigrants experience in health care may prevent them especially from seeking further treatment,” says Hannamaria Kuusio, Research Manager at THL.

Major differences in the sufficiency of doctor’s services in the wellbeing services counties 

The results of the survey were examined with regard to 12 wellbeing services counties. In these counties, the experience of insufficient doctor’s services varied between 27 and 38 per cent.

In seven wellbeing services counties, the immigrant population’s experience of insufficient doctor’s services is significantly more common than in the whole population.  

For example, in the Satakunta wellbeing services county, 38 per cent of immigrants report that they do not receive sufficient services, while the corresponding proportion in the whole population is 25 per cent. The difference between immigrants and the whole population is also ten percentage points or more in the West Uusimaa and the Päijät-Häme wellbeing services counties. 

“When services are planned or organised, it must be ensured that everyone living in Finland has the opportunity to receive the treatment and services they need regardless of their background. This is a precondition for the realisation of equity,” Kuusio says.  

Psychological distress is more common among immigrants than in the whole population 

According to the survey, 23 per cent of immigrant women are psychologically distressed and 20 per cent of immigrant men. The corresponding figures for women in the whole population are 19 per cent for women and 17 per cent for men. 

Like in the whole population, psychological distress is the most common among young adults. In the oldest age group, immigrants aged between 50–74 years, a clearly larger proportion is psychologically distressed than in the whole population of the same age.

The psychological distress of the immigrant population became more common between 2018 and 2022. This was observed especially among immigrants from Russia, the former Soviet Union, and European (excl. Estonia) and South Asian countries. In these groups, the proportions increased by almost ten percentage points from the figures four years earlier. 

“The increase and the large proportion of those suffering from psychological distress may be caused by both more recent factors, such as the COVID-19 epidemic and the war in Ukraine, and by more traditional reasons, such as the tense atmosphere in society, discrimination and difficulties to access suitable services,” describes Anu Castaneda, Research Manager at THL. 

“We should invest more in the receptiveness of society and the accessibility of the services so that these mental health inequalities related to origin can be narrowed down,” she continues.

The MoniSuomi survey examined the health, well-being and experiences of social welfare and health care services of the foreign-born adult population living in Finland. The information was collected between September and March 2022. The survey was responded to by 7,838 people who were themselves or whose parents were born outside Finland. The persons invited to the MoniSuomi survey were aged between 20 and 74 years.

The cooperation partners and funders of the MoniSuomi survey were the Centre of Expertise in Immigrant Integration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Turku,


Health and well-being of the adult population with a foreign background – MoniSuomi 2022. One in three immigrants do not receive a sufficient amount of doctor’s services. Statistical Report 36/2023, THL. 

Health and well-being of the adult population with a foreign background – MoniSuomi 2022. Statistics and data.

National study on the health, welfare and services of the foreign-born population (MoniSuomi)

Additional information

Hannamaria Kuusio
Research Manager
tel. +358 29 524 7657
[email protected]

Anu Castaneda
Research Manager
tel. +358 29 524 7848
[email protected]

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