Supporting youth mental health work for Christmas—Oulun Energia donates to Oulun kriisikeskus
This Christmas, Oulun Energia supported the MIELI Oulun seudun mielenterveys ry mental health organisation, where the donation is directed to support services for the youth. Youth well-being, or rather the lack thereof, has been a known issue for a long time and mental health services lack the sufficient resources to meet the existing needs. This is evident by the fact, among other things, that one in ten of the young people contacting the Sekasin chat room run by MIELI ry struggles with self-destructive thoughts.
“The problems pile up because help is not readily available and an increasing number of people contacting us is already in really bad shape. Mental health services do not work as they should in Finland, the system is in tatters and is complex, and the waiting times are unreasonable,” states Minna Rautio, a crisis worker coordinating the Sekasin chat room at Oulun kriisikeskus (Oulu Crisis Centre).
The purpose of Oulu Crisis Centre is to complement mental health services and to provide help in acute situations. Its operations are based on complete anonymity if the customer desires it. Customer data is not logged and no customer database is in use. It is short-term help, designed to get the customer over the worst. The service is also free of charge to the customer.
“We are receiving customers at the Oulu Crisis Centre at Kauppurienkatu 23. Crisis workers can also be reached by phone or video chat.”
Up to 170,000 young people contact MIELI ry’s Sekasin chat room annually
The Sekasin chat room for young people reaches 12–29-year-olds where the youth already spend their time, the internet. A group of trained volunteers are on the other end of the chat room.
“But the sad thing at the moment is that the youth is very aware of the chat room, but there are still too few on-call volunteers. The waiting time of the chat room can be up to 2–3 hours, which is far too long,” Rautio sighs.
With the donation, Oulu Crisis Centre can temporarily continue coordinating the Sekasin chat room in Oulu, as it does not have constant resources to maintain operations.
Training and supporting volunteers and recruiting new volunteers requires resources. This year, with the help of a part-time coordinator, they have managed to increase the number of volunteers working in the Sekasin chat room from four to thirty and have had triple the number of discussions compared to the previous year.
However, the well-functioning service is in danger of being closed down due to a lack of funding.
“In order to keep the current volunteers and provide things like additional training and support, we need more resources in the form of such donations, for example,” Rautio states.
The power of volunteering
In addition to professionals, there is a large number of volunteers on call in the Sekasin chat room, made up of a diverse group of people of different ages. The youngest are 23 years old, which is also the minimum age for volunteering. The oldest are already at pensioner age. Common to all the volunteers is the desire to genuinely help. In addition, the flexibility of the service is convenient for many—you can be on call from any location, depending on your own needs. The training also takes place online.
Although each person is on call on their own, it is still communal. The employees of MIELI ry’s Sekasin collective are always available for support. In addition, volunteers get together for recreational events and to discuss any cases on their minds.
“This is a group effort to promote youth well-being. Without volunteers, this wouldn’t be possible,” Rautio says.
Why then are young people feeling unwell?
There are currently many reasons the youth is feeling unwell. COVID-19 and the exceptional circumstances caused by it are still weighing on people. Young people have also reacted strongly to the war in Ukraine and to the global and environmental situations in general. The world is also completely different for the youth than it was for previous generations.
“Bullying on social media, for example, has a completely different scope nowadays. It follows you home and is constantly present. Young people feel pressure from many different sources and at the same time, services have been reduced. For example, the upper secondary school reform has resulted in exhaustion in the youth. And solutions to it aren’t taught. Fortunately, emotional education has recently been increased in schools and educational institutes. I’m very happy about that,” Rautio smiles.
According to Rautio, the youth live in a tough world where social media is putting enormous pressure on what each person should be like.
“You should be active, successful, fit, and beautiful too. The expectations are enormous, and they are impossible to fulfill or they come at a very high price. However, humanity has remained almost unchanged and all that is really necessary is that young people are genuinely seen, heard, and met. I’m not at all surprised that an individual person feels lost in all this.”
Rautio has a message of gentleness to loved ones: “The best thing you can do for someone is be there for them, make sure you really have the time to hear how they are. Shared moments are remembered and they remain valuable assets for the rest of your lives.”
Minna’s suggestions for maintaining and strengthen your own well-being: check out our comprehensive and free materials on MIELI ry’s website.
Read more about MIELI ry’s volunteer work and give a meaningful donation (in Finnish only).