Bringing Mental-Health Services Closer to Children and Young People
Estonia needs more effective and accessible mental-health services for young people. Research from Tartu University, conducted between 1995 and 2012, showed a dramatic increase of more than 500% in hospital visits linked to mental-health issues.
Estonia needs more effective and accessible mental-health services for young people. Research from Tartu University into hospital visits linked to mental-health issues, showed a dramatic increase in visits of more than 500% between 1995 and 2012.
The rise in mental health-related problems is attributed to a number of factors, including alcohol consumption and an increase in social inequality. Eurostat figures from 2010 show that suicide rates of 18.3 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, were well above the EU average of 12.3 per 100 000.
One of the problems has been access to services:
“Mental-health services for children have been available mostly in bigger cities in Estonia. Inpatient child-psychiatry services are offered in hospitals in Tallinn, Tartu and Viljandi, but coverage of outpatient services is relatively poor in smaller regions in Estonia,“ says Programme Coordinator, Ms Elis Haan, from the Public Health Department in the Ministry of Social Affairs.
There have been huge improvements in Estonia’s mental-health services over the past 15 years. The system has moved from being psychiatry-based to one that is closer to the citizen. Nevertheless, further assistance is needed to ensure that more effective and accessible help is available to young people. Tartu University Hospital has received funding from the Norway Grants for two mental-health centres in southern Estonia and Ida-Viru County. The projects will include the promotion of mental-health services and involve the training of specialists in the social and educational fields. The main target group will be children and families, but also health professionals.
Picture: Logos of the South Estonia and North East Estonia children´s mental-health centre
The Norway Grants are supporting mental-health services for young people in Estonia by establishing four mental-health centres across Estonia. In addition, four outpatient mental-health counselling teams in smaller hospitals in Ida-Viru County and southern Estonia will be trained. Norway Grants will also provide funding to increase the number of inpatient beds available in Tallinn and Tartu. The inpatient care will be focused on those young people with the most severe mental-health problems, such as eating disorders and suicidal behaviour.
Bilateral cooperation with the donor programme partner, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, has reaped valuable rewards.
“The cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of public health has been very important. The Norway Grants have been a huge support in making so many great ideas become alive, otherwise we wouldn’t have had a chance to accomplish our dreams. Thanks to the Grants we have reached hundreds of children and adolescents with mental health problems and provided them help near to their homes. We have had a chance to develop new services like home-treatment and out-reach services to provide help in the patient's home. Also we have raised the knowledge about mental health problems among Estonian people and trained specialists, especially teachers, about most common mental health problems. We are extremely thankful for the help from Norway in making our dreams come true, “ says the Head of the Tartu University Hospital’s Psychiatry Clinic’s children department, Senior Child Psychiatrist, Dr Inna Lindre.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Professor of Health Psychology, Deputy Director General Professor Arne Holt, stresses that working with Estonia has been a two-way learning process, “It has been useful to share Norwegian experiences and also encourage Estonia in areas where Norway could improve further. By investing in public health, this will promote the population's health and well-being contributing to prevention. I have also found that Norway has a lot to learn from Estonia. In particular, I am impressed by the high coverage of child-care centres and the very high level of education among the teachers in the child care centres. I really would wish that we had come that far in Norway. That is good mental health promotion. “