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Finland sets up centre promoting refugee mental health

All five of the country's university hospitals are taking part in the effort, which is being funded by the EU.

HUSin tornisairaala, Helsinki
Meilahti Tower Hospital, part of Helsinki University Central Hospital. Image: Yle

Finland has set up a nationwide centre of expertise that aims to promote mental health among residents with asylum seeker backgrounds, according to THL, the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

Initially, the main thrust of the programme will be to consult and train hospital and mental health care staff in the needs of individuals with refugee backgrounds, while at the same time developing health care services, according to THL project manager Johanna Mäki-Opas.

"Professionals from various fields need support and information in order to be able to promote mental health services for people with asylum seeker backgrounds. That is why a central competency centre is needed," Mäki-Opas said.

The new centre is an expansion and complement to the THL's Paloma project (Developing National Mental Health Policies for Refugees) that began at the beginning of 2016 and ended at the end of last year.

Work on the centre officially began earlier this year and is scheduled to operate through June 2021 and expected to continue after that, according to the agency.

The effort is being carried out by the THL and all five of the country's university hospitals - in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Kuopio and Oulu - as well as the Finnish Association for Mental Health will participate.

The project is being funded by the European Commission's Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which promotes the management of migration across the European Union.

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