Mental health services

‘Mental health services’ refers to services that aim to prevent, alleviate and treat mental health problems and their consequences. Promoting mental health may also be considered a mental health service.

Such services include providing guidance, advice, needs-based psychosocial support, psychosocial support in crisis situations, and the study, treatment and rehabilitation of mental health problems. In Finland, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for the legislation concerning mental health services, the regulations for admission to treatment and other official governance.

Statistics show that the greatest volume of mental health services is provided by health centres and specialist medical care facilities. Social services and parishes also undertake certain activities that may be considered mental health services. Furthermore, a wide range of mental health services is provided by NGOs, i.e. the third sector. Private-sector services are of significant importance particularly in the area of psychotherapy.

The majority of the clients of mental health services receive outpatient care; only a small percentage require hospitalisation. Today, Finland’s psychiatric hospitals have about 2,700 beds altogether, compared with about 20,000 at their peak. The number of beds will continue to decrease as the number of outpatient visits increases. Today, hospitals treat about 21,000 people annually, about one third of them subjected to involuntary treatment under the Mental Health Act.

Public health care services

If you experience symptoms of anxiety or depression or more severe mental health symptoms, you should first contact your local health centre. Many health centre facilities have psychiatric nurses who work with health centre physicians to examine such cases and to offer help. Health centres also have psychologists, and in some places there are psychiatrists.

In certain communities, psychiatric specialist medical care provides on-call services that you can contact directly. Otherwise, you will need a specialist medical care referral from a physician. There are great differences in how mental health services are organised in different communities. To find out about the situation in your local community, consult the instructions issued by your local authority or visit the Mental Hub website. This online service contains lots of information besides first-aid and self-help instructions.
Mental Hub

Specialist medical care facilities provide psychiatric services in outpatient care and in hospitals. In addition to the general psychiatric outpatient clinics there are also specialised services addressing specific issues such as eating disorders.

Services in a crisis

There are dedicated crisis teams to help people in a crisis situation, for instance in the aftermath of an accident, in order to prevent later mental health issues. Information on crisis teams is available at emergency clinics and also from the rescue services and the police.

In case of a personal crisis, you may turn to the crisis centres maintained by the Finnish Association for Mental Health and the family counselling centres run by parishes. Various NGOs also offer more specialised services for this purpose.
Mental Health Finland