Ukraine crisis puts a strain on the mental resources of many – psychological well-being of young people in special need of support

Publication date 24 Mar 2022

Russia's attack against Ukraine is bringing anguish and fear to many. This comes at a time when the mental resources of many are already being strained by the drawn-out coronavirus pandemic.

Mental symptoms have increased especially among teenagers and young adults. All this comes out in the findings of THL's most recent FinSote study, the School Health Promotion study, and the Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey. 

The Citizens’ Pulse survey of the Prime Minister's Office shows that confidence in the future among Finns has remained strong during the pandemic. However, stress has increased especially among young people. 

“Many young people confront the situation connected with the crisis in Ukraine at a time when they already feel anxiety. It is important to consider this as Finland's municipalities and wellbeing services counties develop and resource their mental health services. Supporting the mental health of young people is of great importance now and in the coming years", says THL Director General Markku Tervahauta.

THL's collected tips: in a crisis it is good to follow daily routines

Although the crisis in Ukraine poses no direct military threat to Finland, the events and the news can feel shocking, distressing, and frightening. THL has compiled information on its website to help promote resilience against the crisis as well as ways to cope with the worry and uncertainty. 

Everyone can bolster their day-to-day ability to cope through daily routines. Nutritious food, sufficient sleep and exercise, and the proximity of others help in reducing distress. Taking breaks, relaxation, and being outside in nature promote mental well-being.  

Many other entities have material online to help deal with the emotions caused by the crisis. For example, the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL) have also posted practical tips on how to support a child or young person in this situation. The Finnish National Agency for Education has written instructions on discussing the crisis in early education, school, and educational institutions. 

THL works closely with other authorities

For its part, THL has made preparations to deal with knock-on effects of the crisis in Ukraine and is monitoring its effects on the health and wellbeing of the Finnish population and on social and health care services in Finland. 

THL is cooperating closely on the Ukrainian situation especially with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) and the Prime Minister's Office. 

THL supports Migri in organising social and health services for those applying for temporary protection or who have started the asylum process and is also responsible for ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines. 

Other important partners include the National Emergency Supply Agency, the Finnish Red Cross, the Defence Forces, and Finland's municipalities. 

Further information:

Mental health in times of crises
How to talk about war with a child or young person (MLL)
The crisis in Ukraine can be mentally unsettling (Finnish Red Cross) 
Discussing the crisis in Ukraine with children and young people in education and training (Finnish National Agency for Education) 

Jaana Suvisaari (yong people's mental health)
Research Professor, Head of Mental Health Unit
[email protected]

Outi Linnaranta
Chief Physician, implementation of mental health strategy
[email protected]

Hannu Kiviranta
Research Professor, Chief of Preparedness
[email protected]

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