TALLINN - The Estonian state is to allocate 1.3 million euros for the provision of mental health services through local governments.
Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo signed orders this week launching a new application round for the provision of mental health services to local governments and payment of salary support to community psychologists.
The support for mental health services is geared at improving the availability of help near people's homes to support the mental wellbeing of people in Estonia. Local governments will be able to use the support to pay the salary and mentoring costs of psychologists working at local governments and health centers as well as to expand the selection and volume of services and therapies offered depending on the need of the local people.
"People need to be able to get help before their problems engulf them, which is why enabling better access to mental health services is of critical importance. We will continue the application rounds started last year both this year and the year after to expand the circle of mental health service providers, learn from our experiences and pursue long-term solutions together with local governments," Riisalo said.
Mental health of the population has deteriorated under the COVID-19 pandemic -- studies show a growth in mental health problems and a deterioration in wellbeing in the population and a worsening of the condition of people who have previously experienced mental health problems. Even before the pandemic, mental health problems were one of the main causes of health loss, but access to care was limited.
The need for improving the availability of mental health services in local governments also emerged from the survey conducted last spring by the Ministry of Social affairs among 75 local governments out of the total of 79 in the country. The survey results revealed that some 72 percent of local governments said that the need for mental health services had grown during the coronavirus crisis. The provision of psychological assistance organized by local governments was deemed necessary. Help is needed most by children, families and the elderly and most frequently experienced problems concern domestic disputes and violence.
The 1.3 million euros earmarked for salary support for community psychologists and mental health services through local governments can only be used for covering the expenditures generated in 2022. Application for the support starts with the opening of the application round and the deadline for applications is Dec. 15, 2022.