7.7 Making health facilities more youth friendly
As mentioned above, until the social and health care reforms come into force, municipalities are responsible for organising health services. According to the Health Care Act, municipalities must organise health services for pupils in its area. Each school has a designated school public health nurse and a school doctor, whose contact information and appointment hours are printed on pamphlets distributed to pupils’ homes. Provision of health care services is based on the number of pupils at each school. Numbers may vary, but the guideline by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) defines that one school public health nurse should not be responsible for more than 600 pupils and one school doctor for more than 2100 pupils respectively. Those young people who are not attending school are entitled to the same health services as other residents in the municipality.
Additionally, several municipalities offer tailored and free-of-charge services for young people. For example, the City of Helsinki has following services especially targeted for young people:
- Youth Station: Helps young people aged 13 to 23, who are struggling with moderate mental health problems or severe substance abuse issues.
- Low-threshold Mental Health Service Unit Mieppi: Offers discussion support for promoting mental well-being, serves all people over the age of 13 and its services are free of charge.
- Youth Helsinki: Website which helps to find services that support health, well-being and independence.
In addition, there are campaigns that concentrate specifically on issues, which are important for young people’s health. For example, one of the initiatives to make health facilities more youth friendly was the NGOs’ campaign concerning free contraception for under 25-year-olds. The campaign was carried out during municipal elections and several candidates supported the initiative. In some municipalities, all young people are already entitled to free contraception. This practice is also recommended by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Family Federation of Finland and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.