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Frontpage News 2013 A better future for Estonian children with special needs

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Photo: Christophe Vander Eecken

A better future for Estonian children with special needs

Currently no joined up service for children with severe mental health problems exists in Estonia. A new Norway Grants project intends to change this.

As part of this initiative, a group of Estonian mental health experts and educators went to Oslo at the end of September. The aim was to learn how services are delivered to children with mental problems in Norway.

Under the Public Health Initiative programme, Estonia is implementing a project to “Develop and pilot rehabilitation services for children with severe mental health problems”.   Children with these problems are facing many challenges trying to get the help they need.

Therapy

It is often difficult for children with severe and persistent mental disorder to integrate themselves in regular schools.  What they need is constant therapy and supervision.  Estonia does not provide integrated services for these children.  There is no integrated approach based on individual needs for children who have been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders.  

Children at risk

The objective of the Estonian project is to improve mental health services.  This will benefit children who, by a court ruling, are entitled to receive 24-hour special care and those who need a long-term voluntary service.

The goal is to deliver a one-stop service which includes integrated social, health and education services, taking into consideration the children’s needs and supporting them to learn in a safe environment.

Visited Norway

What can Estonia learn from the way Norwegian children with these special needs receive help? The Norwegian Institute of Public Health hosted the group of child psychologists, principals from special needs schools in Estonia, the Estonian National Insurance Board, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Education in Estonia to find out.

Visiting schools and hospitals

Over the three days in Norway, the delegation visited three schools; Holmen School in Akershus, Oslo University Hospital’s child and youth inpatient beds special school and the on-site school at Kringsjåtunet (child and adolescent inpatient service).  The delegation was able to see how these schools integrate with child and youth mental health inpatient and outpatient services.

The Estonian Programme Operator found the trip very useful:  - A thousand thanks for creating really interesting site-visits and meetings with wonderful specialists, says Anna Toots, project manager from the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs.

Click here to read more about the Public Health Initiatives in Estonia

Click here read more about what the Grants are doing in Estonia