Mental health and substance abuse services

Mental health and substance abuse services concern most people, either directly or via their families. Treatment of mental health and substance abuse problems will form an important part of services to be offered by health and social services centres (HSS centres) and by counties' other  service units. 

The counties will need well-functioning treatment and rehabilitation paths for handling various problems in people's everyday lives. The ongoing health and social services reform gives the counties an opportunity to build smooth service chains for those customer groups which the county decision-makers want to prioritise in their service strategies.

The Government proposal for an Act on Freedom of Choice defines alternative ways to organise the services of HSS centres and to offer an extensive selection of other county services by the side of the HSS centres. These ways can be applied to various services, for example to mental health and substance abuse services.

  • Counties could offer some of their specialised healthcare services in connection with HSS centres. A psychiatric nurse and a consulting psychiatrist would treat the client in cooperation with the physician working in the HSS centre.
  • Alternatively, the county could decide that the service selection of the HSS centres includes psychiatric services. In that case a HSS centre would have an own psychiatrist or psychiatric nurses giving treatment under the direction of the psychiatrist of the county. 
  • The county could also decide to grant health and social services vouchers for mental health and substance abuse services. Services vouchers could be used, for example, for short therapies or for services of a psychiatric home call team.  The county's specialised healthcare services could provide, for example, electronic self-care programmes, online psychotherapy and offer some of their services in HSS centres.

The most important thing is to organise the treatment in such a way that the customers will receive the services they need at the right time and can avoid any unnecessary visits to different specialists. This goal is supported even by another reform, the overall reform of legislation concerning mental health and substance abuse. That reform will be circulated for comment this spring.


Helena Vorma, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel.  +358 2951 63388.