THL: The first step in guaranteeing therapy for children and young people should be to strengthen the use of and equal access to existing mental health treatment methods

Publication date 10.6.2024 1.58 | Published in English on 13.6.2024 at 15.25
Press release

THL believes that the government's proposed therapy guarantee for children and young people's mental health should be introduced in stages. First, it must be ensured that there are enough personnel across the country to help children and young people at a low threshold. At the same time, the range of services must be expanded so that the methods can be used to help all children and young people.

“THL proposes a staggered introduction of the therapy guarantee so that interventions that have already been shown to be effective are covered by it first. The availability of proven interventions for the treatment of mental health in children and young people has improved rapidly in Finland, but the use of these interventions has not yet been established,” says Outi Linnaranta, Chief Physician at THL. 

Instead of the one-month time limits proposed in the government's draft proposal, THL prefers to focus on the adequacy of social and health care personnel and the smooth running of operations, as well as the effectiveness of the content.

THL issued a statement on the draft government proposal on the therapy guarantee for children and young people. The consultation period closed on 9 June. 

According to THL, it should be ensured that all children and young people receive effective support and treatment. National monitoring and guidance are also needed. 

“Wellbeing services counties are under severe pressure to save money and they lack resources, which also means prioritising the methods to be used and implemented. The role of those outside the service system is to ensure that citizens have the right to effective support and care,” says Linnaranta. 

Priority to resource work that promotes mental health and prevents risk

According to the THL statement, from the point of view of children's and young people's mental health, it would be a priority to have enough professionals throughout the country to do mental health promotion and risk prevention work. Schools, both at their facilities and as a community, should enable children and young people to grow up safely and to thrive.  

“The aim should be that children and young people learn from adults the knowledge and skills that will help them maintain their well-being and recover from stressful situations,” says  Hanne Kalmari; Development Manager at THL. This requires that there are enough adults in wellbeing services counties to provide teaching and support for learning, but also for psychological symptoms.

The mental health and substance abuse expertise of all professionals working with children and young people should be strengthened, as every encounter between them is important for mental well-being. “The goal should be for every professional to be able to meet the needs of children and young people, offer help and assess the need for referral to therapy,” says Kalmari.

Draft government proposal has serious equality problems

In the draft government proposal, the aim is to ensure that children and young people receive help for mental health disorders and their prevention quickly and at a low threshold. In social care in particular, the one-month time limit for the implementation of the therapy guarantee is difficult to monitor. Furthermore, the proposed time limit is in conflict with the existing time limit for the assessment of service needs.  

According to THL, the draft has significant equality problems.

“It’s problematic from an equality perspective that resources are allocated by law to provide help quickly to children and young people with less severe symptoms. There’s a risk that children, young people and families who need complex or long-term support will be put at a disadvantage. From the point of view of the particularly vulnerable, the proposal is neither adequate nor in line with the principle of equality.  “Preparations to expand the range of services must begin immediately so that the therapy guarantee can be extended to all population groups,” says Outi Linnaranta. 

Wellbeing services counties enable better coordination between the services offered by different actors and those needed by families, for example.  

THL also points out that the mental health of children and young people also depends on the well-being of their carers, and the quality of mental health, substance abuse and addiction services for working-age people has a knock-on effect on children and young people. “For children, early intervention is just part of working with the family.  Interventions are typically targeted at the child's parents, not the child,” says Kalmari. 

More information

Hanne Kalmari 
Development Manager
tel. +358 29 524 7779
[email protected]

Outi Linnaranta
Chief Physician
tel. +358 29 524 7517
[email protected]

Lapset, nuoret ja perheet Main site Mielenterveys