During recent decades, there has been a significant improvement in people’s physical wellbeing. Never before, has the Finnish population been as healthy as they are now. Unfortunately, this kind of progress is not seen in mental wellbeing. This is somehow ambivalent, as physical – and mental wellbeing often go hand in hand. What could be the reasons behind the phenomenon? Partly, because of the changes in diagnostic in the last 3 or 4 decades, the statistics are misleading, but surely, partly to blame is the changing working life with its demands, interruptions, and uncertainty. Blame is also put to media and the virtual world, as they are weakening people`s ability to see reality. This together with weakened norms and values, could be damaging especially for the younger generation, who are still seeking their identity. (Psykiatria, 2017)
Depression is one of the most overloading disorder among population, and the most significant risk factor are harmful experiences in childhood.
Without preventing measures, 60 % of children of the depressed parent will have some mental disorder before their 25th birthday. Risk factors are often accumulating to certain families, while others are enjoying growing wellbeing.
Among parent`s mental illness, poverty, substance abuse, loneliness and being bullied in school, are increasing the risk to develop a mental disorder.
Despite these dark facts, it is possible to effectively prevent mental problems, and most of these acts could be implemented at relatively low cost. Some of the effective and proven social measures to prevent mental problems are listed in the book published by Duodecim: Improved nutrition and living, promoting access to education, reduction of the disadvantages caused by unemployment, strengthening safety nets, reduction of substance abuse and violent, pre-schoolers psychosocial support, child friendly school environment, and preventive mental health programs in schools, have all proved to be effective ways to protect mental wellbeing. (Psykiatria, 2017)
Early intervention to mental problems in schools and families should be a norm, and discussion therapy in schools has brought promising results. One good example is from Ruutana`s elementary school in Kangasala region, where a successful pilot program has been in a run: A few years ago, they hired a socionom as an education provider. Among offering discussion help for school kids, her task is to give support and help with various issues and solve arguments. She is also giving a lecture for each class on a weekly basis to promote emotional skills, as well as social-, – and group forming skills. An education provider also has a big role in preventing exclusion and bullying.
Despite very promising results, these kinds of education providers are currently working in a very small number of schools. But who knows, this might be a future profession for some of us social service students. However, works one of us as an education provider, kindergarden teacher, with immigrants, elderly, disabled or mentally ill in the future, I believe we all will have an important and responsible role preventing exclusion and promoting mental wellbeing. And thereby each one of us can do their part to turn the track to the direction with the development of physical health. And we should not forget how much small things matter: Often listening and being present can be a turning point for someone.
Minna Lahti huolehtii, että opettajat voivat keskittyä opettamiseen – Ruutanan koulussa kasvatusohjaaja hoitaa lasten riitojen selvittelyn https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11056943
Psykiatria, 12. painos, Jouko Lönnqvist,Markus Henriksson, Mauri Marttunen, Timo Partonen, 2017, Kustannus Oy Duodecim