Access to early-stage mental health services for adults

Nainen istuu kalliolla. Kuvaaja: Jussi Hellsten

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The goal of the assessment

The main focus of the assessment was on whether the city had facilitated adults’ access to early-stage mental health services. The assessment was limited to the city’s adult early intervention and low-threshold primary care mental health services for outpatients.


The city has taken many development measures under the City Strategy to facilitate access to early-stage mental health services for adults. These development measures include expanding Mieppi’s operations and introducing short-term frontline therapy, guided self-care and the Therapy Navigator. In addition, the city is working to increase the availability of psychosocial treatments in primary care, including digital services. However, the assessment shows that the measures have yet to improve client access to mental health services, and they are not receiving the treatment they need quickly enough.

The city has made efforts to increase access to services by opening a new short-term therapy unit in Pasila in March 2023. A fourth Mieppi location will also be opened in the short-term therapy unit. In addition, increasing the number of issued service vouchers has increased access to short-term psychotherapy. However, clients have to wait longer for vouchers because application processing times have increased. In future, the city will also seek to provide the appropriate level of service to individual mental health clients through a stepped mental health care model. A draft description of the stepped care model has been prepared but is still in progress.

The Audit Committee concludes that

the Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division should

  • finalise, as soon as possible, the staging of care in mental health services for adults, in cooperation with all those responsible for the mental well-being of adults. The staging should clearly define how mental health clients move through the care chain and who is responsible for the services.
  • introduce the description of treatment stages both in the city’s internal client guidance and when informing clients about services.
  • provide adequate guidance and training to those preparing applications for short-term psychotherapy vouchers to ensure that deficiencies in the applications do not slow down service voucher processing.
  • ensure that mental health services in primary health care receive adequate consultation assistance from the city’s psychiatric consultation teams.
  • ensure that severely symptomatic mental health patients receive the care they need, either by increasing the expertise and resources for primary care or relaxing the referral criteria for specialised care.

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