The recently released study by the Finnish Youth Council and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) shows that foreign-born youth in Finland face numerous challenges that can negatively impact their well-being. According to the study, foreign-born youth are at a higher risk of living in an insecure environment, experiencing bullying and discrimination, struggling to communicate with their parents, and facing difficulty accessing services.
The report, which focuses on the well-being of foreign-born youth aged 12 to 29, highlights the challenges these young people face, with the hope that it can be used as a foundation for policymaking and service development.
One of the significant challenges highlighted in the report is the issue of educational pathways. Foreign-born youth are more often directed towards vocational education and less likely to attend high school than their Finnish counterparts. Additionally, they are underrepresented in higher education, and more likely to drop out of secondary school than Finnish youth.
The study emphasizes the need to pay more attention to the educational paths of foreign-born youth, particularly regarding counseling and support in transition phases, as well as improving parental knowledge of the Finnish education system and options.
The study also found that foreign-born youth are more likely to experience loneliness and discriminatory bullying than Finnish youth. The bullying they experience is also more likely to be physical and violent than that experienced by Finnish youth. The lack of social support and discrimination can lead to mental health problems.
The report highlights that foreign-born boys’ substance abuse is a significant concern, which may be linked to their poor mental health and experiences of discrimination, isolation, and insecurity, as well as family problems and a weak socio-economic position.
The study recommends providing special support to promote the mental health of foreign-born youth, and strengthening society's receptiveness and anti-discrimination work to positively influence their well-being. The Finnish government and service providers need to use the findings of this report to address the challenges that foreign-born youth face and take concrete steps to improve their well-being.
The study reminds us of the need to prioritize inclusive policies that cater to the needs of foreign-born youth, who, despite facing numerous challenges, can contribute to society's growth and development.