The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) have released a well-being review calling for action to halt the decline of Finnish citizens’ work and functional capacity. The report finds that the positive trend in people’s work and functional capacity that began in the 1970s has stalled, with some indicators deteriorating in the 2010s.
Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking, and substance abuse all contribute to the weakening of work and functional capacity. The report highlights that social and economic sustainability depends on people’s physical, psychological, and social well-being and their ability to work and find meaning in life.
The review was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for use in government program negotiations. The document describes the state of Finnish health and well-being from various perspectives and suggests measures to address these issues. According to the report, mental health problems have become a significant cause of disability in the country, with an exceptionally high number of absences from work and disabilities. The increase in mental health problems began even before the pandemic, and the pandemic has made the situation worse. The report calls for measures to improve basic mental health and substance abuse services, as well as sugar, salt, and fat taxes, and maintaining the alcohol monopoly to prevent harm.
The review finds that mental health is crucial to work and functional capacity, and early intervention is necessary to ensure that people can stay healthy and active throughout their lives. Mental health is mostly established in childhood and adolescence, and severe mental health problems in early life can affect later socio-economic status and health. The review calls for timely services and benefits to help people regain their ability to function and work.
The report emphasizes that Finland has achieved significant results in long-term public health work but now calls for an approach that moves beyond national boundaries. The report calls for a shift from public health to planetary health and well-being, recognizing the importance of global sustainability for individual well-being. This report aims to inform the government program negotiations and calls for practical action to support the work and functional capacity of the Finnish population.