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Tuesday's papers: Bitter cold, mental health taboos, charity knighthood, and plenty of TV

Newspapers in Finland discuss freezing temps, Somali community outreach, a medal for food drive hero Heikki Hursti, and average television viewing times in 2018.

Metallica ja shekki
Metallica surprised Heikki Hursti with a donation to his charity in May 2018. Image: Metallica / Hurstinapu

The mercury has been dipping dangerously low over the last few days in Finland, and daily Helsingin Sanomat starts the day with news that a temperature of -33 degrees Celsius (-27.4F) was recorded in the southern municipality of Vihti on Tuesday morning.

Closer to the capital city, the coldest temperature overnight was noted at the Helsinki Airport, which came in with a reading of -25.9C.

The paper predicts that things will start to warm up again in the south on Wednesday, popping back up to just a few degrees below zero. Brutally cold temperatures of -20 or lower will continue in central areas and the north, however. On Monday, the coldest temperature of this winter season, -36.6 was measured in the Lapland municipality of Salla.

According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the lowest temperature ever reported in Finland was -51.5, in 1999. The lowest temperature ever registered in Helsinki is -34.3, a record set in 1987.

Mum about mental health

Local paper Länsiväylä features a story on mental health issues being seen as "taboo" in the Somali community.

Idil Hussein, a researcher with Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare, discusses a recent study that examined the prevalence of mental health symptoms in different population groups in Finland. The analysis found that people with a Somali background had just as many symptoms as other groups, but used far fewer mental health services, comparatively.

"The Somali language doesn't even have words for some mental disorders. For example, the closest equivalents to the word 'depression' are expressions like 'short-term grief' or 'down-in-the-mouth'. There is no word whatsoever for schizophrenia," she tells the paper. "If they can't find words for their problems, it affects how much they talk about it and if they seek help."

Hussein held a seminar series on mental health issues at the Helsinki Islamic Centre in Pasila last year. She is most concerned about the older generation of Somali people who may have fled war and mayhem in their homeland.

"They have trauma-related symptoms. Young Somalis have the same mental health issues that other kids their age have. The younger ones are more likely to know where to get help, but many older people have never become an active part of society, and don't know who to turn to," Hussein says.

Presidential recognition for second-generation charity worker

The tabloid Iltalehti carries news of a medal awarded to charity worker Heikki Hursti, a long-time provider of food and clothing for the needy in Finland.

Years ago Heikki took over the operations of Veikko and Lahja Hursti’s Charitable Trust, a Christian charity started in the 1960s by his father Finnish social activist Veikko Hursti. Among other things, the association runs a food distribution point on Helsinginkatu in the capital city, and provides warm dinners for people in need each year on Independence Day and Christmas.

IL reports that Hursti was out shovelling his driveway when he heard the news that President Sauli Niinistö had awarded him the distinction of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland.

"Such a fine medal. It was very touching to receive this kind of honour," he told the tabloid.

The President awarded the medal on December 6, Finland's Independence Day, but Hursti's family decided to keep the news from him until his cancer-stricken wife had been released from hospital. The new Knight says the recognition feels especially important now that his wife has been ill.

"Many people have since told me that the award went to the right man. It feels really good."

2 hrs and 45 mins a day in front of the TV

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat provides the latest Finnpanel statistics for television viewing time in Finland. Figures from 2018 reveal that the average Finnish resident watched two hours and 45 minutes of television programming a day last year, with an average of 44 percent of the time devoted to watching programmes on the public broadcaster Yle channels, 23 percent watching commercial MTV channels, and 15 percent of viewing time spent watching Nelonen Media channels.

Once again last year, the programme that attracted the highest number of viewers was Yle's coverage of the annual Independence Day ball in the Presidential Palace - drawing 2.4 million viewers to the screen.

The second most-watched programme was the first round of the presidential elections, with over 1.4 million viewers, and the third-most popular TV show was MTV's coverage of the Finland-Switzerland semi-final match in the ice hockey world championships, also with some 1.4 million viewers. The most popular TV show on Nelonen was The Voice of Finland, which boasted 780,000 viewers on 5 January.

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