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Calls to youth mental health helpline up by 25 percent

Young people have found the pandemic difficult to handle.

Psykiatrian päivystyspoliklinikan avaytuva ovi.
Referrals for children's psychiatric care are down, but contact with help services is up during the pandemic. Image: Hanna Othman / Yle
Yle News

Calls to a national mental health helpline for young people have increased by a quarter compared to last year, but referrals for mental health care have reduced during the pandemic.

"There were a lot of contacts linked to self-harm in April and May, and in June and July there were more than at the start of the year," said Satu Sutelainen of Mental Health Finland, which together with the Red Cross runs the Sekasin chat service aimed at young people.

Sekasin was contacted by some 4,000 people in April, up by a quarter on the same period in 2019, but referrals to healthcare professionals were significantly down nationwide, according to THL figures.

The disparity is explained in part by the shutdown of schools and daycare centres in the spring, when school nurses had less access to children.

The number of referrals is now on the rise again, and youth workers expect that to continue through the autumn.

"When schools opened again referrals started to climb again," said Sari Iltanen, who heads up children's psychiatry for Lapland hospital district. "There's an autumn full of work ahead of us."

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