#IAmSuomiToo, a cry for foreigners better access to mental health care
#IAmSuomiToo is a cry of pain launched to the Finnish government by a team of volunteers of foreign origin residing in the country.
Next Friday 6 March, this platform will publish on Change.org a petition addressed to the Ministry of Health to ensure "equitable access to mental health care in Finland for everyone." The petition will also be sent to the Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin.
The promoters of the initiative explained to Foreigner.fi the reasons for this request.
According to the OECD, Finland has the highest incidence of mental disorders in Europe, with 1 in every 5 people experiencing mental problems at some point in their life. This costs the country 10 billion euros yearly, but also means that tens of thousands of people in Finland struggle to access basic mental health care and to receive support when in crisis
Foreigners in particular face a wide array of challenges that impact their mental health. A recent study published by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) emphasized how people of foreign origin face higher risks for mental issues, while their access to appropriate treatment is much more limited than that of natives.
Paola Elefante is one of the promoters of the initiative. Video: Foreigner.fi.
Cultural differences and language barriers often prevent this risk group from asking for and receiving help, explain this team of volunteers. Most of them receive insufficient information regarding the processes of how and where to seek assistance.
"The combination of a lack of diversity amongst mental health professionals, limited and stringent timings for crisis hotlines, long queueing times and expensive private treatment can lead to to the devastating hopelessness that 'Nobody cares' and can cause unfortunate events," say the promoters of the initiative in their petition.
Social media campaign
Unfortunately, sometimes society reacts too late for those who are suffering. That was the case of an Espoo mother of British nationality, who committed suicide a few weeks ago in prison, where she entered after killing her son. This event shocked Finland and all those who knew her, who still wonder why this woman did not receive help in time.
Next Friday, when their request for better access to mental health care services is published on Change.org, volunteers will also launch a social media campaign named #IAmSuomiToo, inviting people to support the cause.