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Mental Health Finland Reduces Staff Due to Government Budget Cuts

Mieli Mental Health Finland says it is forced to reduce its workforce due to government cuts in support for associations that advance health and wellbeing.

Mieli, which calls itself the world’s oldest mental health NGO, expects to lose a quarter of its support funding.

The 125-year-old non-profit is best known for its 24-hour Crisis Helpline, which provides potentially life-saving support in English, Finnish, Swedish, Arabic, Ukrainian and Russian.

Over the past couple of years, the number of calls to the helpline has soared as people in Finland grappled with mental health issues amid the pandemic, the Russian attack on Ukraine and sharp increases in the cost of living.

The association also coordinates Victim Support Finland, a nationwide service provided in collaboration with other organisations, and co-coordinates the Sekasin Kollektiivi, which provides help to adolescents.

Now however Mieli’s financial outlook is so bleak that it has announced redundancy talks covering its entire staff of 184 people. Up to eight jobs will be cut, depending on more concrete information about future funding, it said on Thursday.

“Funding base has rapidly weakened”

In a press release, Executive Director Sari Aalto-Matturi noted that “there is a strong need for mental health work” and that the NGO’s work has been recognised as important.

“We have received good funding for it and been able to expand our operations. Now the funding base has rapidly weakened and we have to adapt our operations to a new scale. In this difficult situation, our priority is to ensure the continuation of basic activities, such as helping people in need of crisis support and strengthening the mental health of young people,” Aalto-Matturi said.

Mieli’s previous project funding is running out and the right-wing cabinet that took office in June has announced reductions in state support for health-sector NGOs as part of an array of austerity measures. As a result, Mieli must reorganise its operations in order to balance its budget in 2025, she added.

Within the next four years, PM Petteri Orpo’s NCP-led government plans to reduce support to associations in the social and health care sector by around 100 million euros. Mieli estimates that this means it will lose a quarter of its state support.

Source : YLE

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