The mental health field in Estonia is slated to receive an additional €4.7 million in funding next year, more than doubling the amount of money allocated in Estonia's 2023 state budget to a total of €7 million in public funding for mental health services.
The €4.7 million in supplementary funding will help develop various services supporting mental health as well as provide them to a broader target group than before, the Ministry of Social Affairs said in a press release Monday.
"Completed this summer, the first comprehensive mental health survey of the Estonian population provided us with the situational picture needed for the planning of further activities," Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said. "We know that the people of Estonia are living longer and longer, but are experiencing various health issues that hinder their social participation. Unfortunately, many of these are mental health issues."
According to the minister, the state will be increasing investments in mental healthcare in Estonia, as the worsening of mental health issues, particularly among young people, can significantly inhibit people's well-being and ability to cope, as well as give rise to many other issues which for families and society as a whole alike cost more than their prevention would.
"While right now, the additional funding is aimed primarily at providing help, in the future, more emphasis should definitely be placed on prevention and on improving people's self-help and self-care skills," she added.
€1.14 million in supplementary funding has been earmarked for the provision and development of mental health services. Part of this funding will go to ensure the provision of wage support for community psychologists and mental health service support, which are aimed at local governments, at the same volume as this year.
Under a new initiative, to be introduced in Estonia in the coming years are brief psychological interventions (BPIs), which in less severe cases can be delivered by other specialists or paraprofessionals in addition to or in lieu of psychologists.
"In the coming years, these steps should help reduce wait times for treatment in mental healthcare and reduce the burden on psychiatric help," Riisalo said.
The state will also be allocating nearly €1.3 million to services supporting children's mental health. This will include increasing funding for the Child Helpline 116111, which has seen increasing volumes of mental health-related calls in recent years, as well as for closed childcare institution services, which will help ensure the improved accessibility and quality thereof.
The additional funding will likewise enable the launch of the newest Children's House in Pärnu, which will provide support to children who have been victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). Estonia's current Children's Houses are located in Tallinn, Tartu and Jõhvi, but provide services to children from anywhere in the country.
Editor: Aili Vahtla