You can seek help for mental health problems from, for example, your health care centre, your occupational health care, private health service providers, private psychotherapists or third sector organisations which provide help and support in mental health issues.
Supply of mental health services differs significantly from one town to another. The structure of the services in larger towns is generally more versatile and there are more service providers to begin with.
See examples of public mental health services in some cities:
Outpatient care and hospitalisation
Mental disorders are usually treated with a combination of talk therapy and medication, and sometimes with different kinds of group activities, as well.
Even psychiatric treatment for more severe and long-term mental disorders is often provided as outpatient care, i.e. patients do not spend their nights in the hospital, and they only make visits a few times a week or month to receive treatment. Depending on the place of residence and the needs of the patient, outpatient care offers different kinds of support services, such as supported living or rehabilitative day-time activities. In Helsinki, for example, day-time activities are organised by Niemikotisäätiö, among others.
The purpose of day-time activities is to improve the quality of mental health patients’ lives and to maintain their independent initiative and activity. Day-time activities often include, for example, cooking opportunities, exercise, camping and the chance to talk to other mental health patients and the instructors.
In case the services of psychiatric outpatient care are insufficient, patients are referred to a psychiatric care unit after assessing their needs for treatment. In practice, it is not easy to get admitted into a ward or inpatient care.
In case you think you need help in regards to your mental health, help should be first sought at health care centres or from your occupational health care. The level of mental health services available through occupational health care depends on the agreement between your employer and the occupational health care. For example, if your occupational health care does not cover psychiatric treatment, your occupational health physician can write you a referral to corresponding treatment provided by public health care.
University students, including students of universities of applied sciences, may use the services provided by the Finnish Student Health Service (opens in new tab) instead of health care centres. Students from other schools can have access to school or health care centre doctors with a referral from the school nurse.
The potential progress of treatment in health care centres
Usually it is the primary care physician at the health care centre who first assesses the patient’s need for treatment. If necessary, they will refer the patient to specialised psychiatric care at the psychiatric polyclinic.In some counties, specialised psychiatric care unit are not cllaed ‘psychiatric polyclinic’; instead, they may refer to it as mental health centre or mental health offices.
Some counties allow patients to make appointments directly with the psychiatric polyclinic, but usually a referral either from the health care centre or the occupational health physician is required. The health care centres in some municipalities also employ so-called depression nurses, who offer talk therapy.
If basic health care refers you to specialised care, i.e. to the psychiatric polyclinic or to a corresponding unit organising mental health services, you will have the chance to discuss with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or psychiatric nurse, depending on your situation. In addition to talk therapy, you may need individual, family or group psychotherapy, medication or rehabilitation, such as occupational, music or sports therapy.
Often psychiatric polyclinics cannot offer frequent, long-term psychotherapy. Therefore patients must buy psychotherapy from private psychotherapists. If a specialist has issued a statement on the need for psychotherapy, it is possible to apply for financial support for the costs of the therapy from KELA (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland). Read more about psychotherapy and seeking help through psychotherapy.
This section discusses private health care services, excluding occupational health care and The Finnish Student Health Service. Occupational health care is discussed in connection to health care centres.
KELA reimburses some of the costs of some private health care services. With the exception of psychotherapy, mental health disorders can be treated in public health care. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, must be purchased from private psychotherapists almost without exception.
If a specialist has issued a statement on the need for psychotherapy, it is possible to apply for financial support for the costs of the therapy from KELA (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland). Even if you decide to commit to psychotherapy entirely on your own expense, you might still want to choose a psychotherapist approved by Valvira (former TEO) and reimbursable by KELA, in order to ensure the quality of treatment. Read more about psychotherapy.
Several civil society organisations offer help services, mostly funded with funds from the governmental gaming monopoly Veikkaus Oy and they are free of charge for the users. In addition, people can participate in the activities organised by several organisations, for example by working as part of the voluntary support personnel. The organisations offer help in the form of hotlines, online help, face-to-face crisis work, peer support or rehabilitation courses.
Examples of civil society organisations providing mental health help and support
MIELI Crisis Centre Helsinki
List of local crisis centres (in Finnish)
Finnish Central Association for Mental Health (opens in new tab)
FinFami – Finnish Central Association of Families of People with mental illness (opens in new tab)
Nyyti (for university and UAS students) (opens in new tab)
Supportive online services
Tukinet offers personal support in the form of the staff or volunteers at crisis centres, participation in different discussion groups, or searching for information from Tukinet’s Service Lookup or Material Database.
The national Crisis Helpline 09 2525 0116 offers immediate and free talk help for people in crisis and their families and friends from Monday to Friday in English.
The Crisis Helpline offers help also in Finnish 24/7 (09 2525 0111), Swedish (09 2525 0112), Arabic (09 2525 0113), Ukrainian (09 2525 0114) and Russian (09 2525 0115). The phones are answered both by crisis workers and trained volunteers.
Your phone operator will charge a fee based on your telephone subscription (local network rate or mobile charge). MIELI does not charge for the call.