Health & wellbeing

With many mental health and social services on summer hiatus, the demand for help continues even during the holiday season. The disruptions in services have resulted in a growing backlog at the MIELI ry Crisis Helpline, which received a record-breaking number of over 70,450 calls during the summer.

Surpassing the previous summer record of over 66,000 call attempts in 2022, this year's figures indicate a significant surge.

In July alone, the helpline received 38,270 calls, establishing a new monthly record. The helpline was able to respond to 14,600 calls during June and July combined. Furthermore, the number of inquiries to MIELI ry's adult-focused chat service also reached a new record in July, with 999 contacts.

The heightened demand can be attributed to the advice for individuals to reach out to the Crisis Helpline when other services are closed. According to MIELI ry's monitoring (n = 162), customers were redirected to the Crisis Helpline from acute psychiatry, emergency services, and child protection. Customers also independently contacted the helpline when lacking ongoing treatment contacts.

"In particular, mental health services lack any alternative means of contact or counseling for distressed or even suicidal clients. For many, the waiting time until the next appointment is extended to the fall, which seems unreasonable from the client's perspective," says Sanna Vesikansa, Director of Crisis Services at MIELI ry.

Common Concerns and Available Assistance

The most common topic of conversation among Crisis Helpline callers this summer is distress (17%). This category encompasses issues such as anxiety, depression, and fears. Following that, the next most frequent concerns are relationship problems (14%) and challenges with daily life (11%).

"Those seeking counseling generally discuss their own difficult life situations or crises. National or global concerns can also compound distress. In addition to recurring topics like the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine, callers this summer have been worried about cuts proposed in the government program," explains Susanna Winter, Head of Phone and Online Crisis Work.

Almost all feedback from Crisis Helpline callers has been positive, with 98% expressing gratitude for the service. In 284 calls, the caller explicitly mentioned not intending to harm themselves or commit suicide.

Accessible Counseling Services

The Finnish line for MIELI ry's Crisis Helpline operates 24/7 at 09 2525 0111. The helpline offers counseling in six languages: Swedish, English, Arabic, Russian, and Ukrainian. Language lines are open for 20 hours per week. The Solmussa chat is available from Monday to Wednesday, 15:00 to 19:00, and on Thursdays from 15:00 to 21:00. The Sekasin chat, catering to individuals aged 12-29, is open on weekdays from 09:00 to 24:00 and on weekends from 15:00 to 24:00.