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Monday's papers: Care cuts, pandemic hangovers and the most stressful time of the year

Iltalehti suggests that the runup to Christmas is the most stressful period for most people.

There is a shortage of healthcare staff in Finland. Image: Paulus Markkula / Yle

This November Helsingin Sanomat has reported that nearly all of the new county council healthcare authorities will start its life with a budget deficit.

On Monday the paper tries to unravel (siirryt toiseen palveluun) what that might actually mean for services, as the new managers of healthcare budgets take charge in 2023. 

Petri Virolainen, who heads up the Päijät-Häme region, says that there is neither the money nor the staff to maintain current service levels.

Even if the budget was available, his services need to hire some 500 nurses and care workers — but the candidates are just not available. 

He declined to specify cuts he might make, but on a general level suggested that the frequency of some services might be reduced, and that the authority might make efforts to source cheaper medicines. 

Marina Kinnunen, who leads the Ostrobothnian authority, said that there should be an effort to shift resources to basic services, as early intervention is often cheaper than expensive specialist treatments. 

Virolainen, meanwhile, says that in future individuals themselves should have some responsibility to take better care of themselves, as that would also help reduce the burden on healthcare providers. 

Youth crime and Covid

In the wake of a stabbing in Turku, local paper Turun Sanomat asks (siirryt toiseen palveluun) if the current spike in youth crime might have something to do with the pandemic and associated disruption to school life, hobbies and youth services. 

There is a longer-term trend, with crimes in which the suspect is under 15 years of age tripling since 2015. That said, the pandemic could have had an effect, according to THL researcher Anneli Portman.

Young people spent much more time online during the pandemic, and were exposed to video content detailing trends in violence in other countries.

The isolation felt during the Covid lockdowns also meant many young people now possess an increased need for company and to fit in with different types of groups, which could lead to more risky behaviours. 

Markus Kaakinen of the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, meanwhile, says that it is too early to properly evaluate the impact of the pandemic and remote learning on violent crime. 

While the trend is upwards, he says there's no epidemic of violent crime, and it makes no sense to play on people's fears around the topic. 

Outi Linnaranta of Finland's public health authority THL suggests that trends in young people's mental health were already negative before the pandemic, and those who were doing badly before took more of a hit once remote learning and lockdowns spread. 

A teacher's union representative tells TS that the solutions are likely to be similar — but with a shortage of school psychologists and other support staff already, it might not be possible to fill the gaps. 

Stressful times

It's no surprise that November is a dark time of year in Finland, but tabloid Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that many people also find it stressful.

A survey for the LähiTapiola insurance firm found that 13 percent of respondents said that November is the most stressful time of the year for them, with 12 percent picking December as their least relaxing month. 

Elias Huhtinen of LähiTapiola tells IL that in addition to the darkness, many people find that the end of the year involves lots of tasks for the organisation they work for. 

IL suggests people should remember to exercise, support their colleagues, go easy on themselves and dial down the self-criticism, and organise things so the threshold for going for a walk is lower, and healthier snacks are the default option. 

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