Last Word

16.12.16

Lessons from Finland for NHS mental health

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 16

While many countries across Europe struggle to deal with a rising demand for mental health services, Finland is successfully improving service provision via a new online portal. Professor Grigori Joffe, medical director at Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and a member of Mental Health Hub’s founding team, explains how the country’s digital approach can make therapy more accessible and affordable.

Finnish mental healthcare has taken a leap forwards with the launch of Mental Health Hub, a comprehensive range of mental health services that can be accessed through a single portal. By streamlining patient access to information and treatment, the hub is enabling our practitioners to address disorders at an early stage for better patient outcomes. Plus, in an age of growing demand for psychotherapy and health budgets being stretched even further, the hub aims to prevent mental healthcare costs spiralling out of control. 

Offering patients online therapy, a local service finder, various sources of information, self-help programmes and guides for pre-clinical conditions, the hub gives immediate access to certain therapies with no waiting list, right across Finland. All services – for both patients and healthcare professionals – are now available in one place, with each patient receiving the same high-quality treatment and care. 

Innovative features 

At the heart of Mental Health Hub is a ‘symptom navigator’, which directs the public to appropriate local services based on the severity of their distress, but at the same time preventing any self-diagnostics. Separately, an automatic ‘psycho-educator’ provides reliable, common sense information on symptoms and disorders. For mental healthcare professionals, the hub also offers education, training, advice and consultation opportunities plus various tools for measuring mental health. 

The portal is also currently offering patients computer-assisted cognitive behavioural online therapies for depression, alcohol misuse and a wide range of anxiety disorders, as well as a symptom control programme for bipolar disorder. A range of additional therapies is being developed, with bulimia therapy scheduled to go live in spring 2017. 

Behind the scenes of the hub is a modular IT platform, designed to support the growth and expansion of the portal via diverse additional modules which include self-help, monitored peer group discussions; professional-guided, computer-assisted, internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT); and consultations and professional training, to name a few. 

Lessons learned 

When we started the project almost 10 years ago, there was no national co-ordination of mental health service providers. But when we reached out to the relevant stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors, we were met with an incredibly high level of enthusiasm and they all wanted to become involved. 

This open and inclusive dialogue was the primary, critical success factor of the project. From the government to private sector, what we quickly learned was that all parties need to collaborate – don’t be selfish, speak to anyone, and encourage co-operation for the benefit of everyone. And by maintaining the patient as the central focus at all times, the ethical nature of the project is guaranteed, which makes it straightforward for all parties to participate. 

Another key learning was to start small and think rationally. We began by bringing together mental health and substance abuse professionals from our catchment area and involved patients in the early stages. This approach created a basis for the service paths and the first version of Mental Health Hub was born. 

Results to date 

Overall, the hub is helping to achieve better outcomes at less cost and the demand is finally being met. Now, primary healthcare practitioners are referring patients directly to the online therapies, which is improving the general mental health of the population with a minimal financial input. In a recent study by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Mental Health Hub outperformed all other national eHealth services in terms of usefulness. 

On the back of this success, we are developing the hub’s innovative platform model by applying it to other fields, such as social services. Live projects, in conjunction with regions across Finland, are already well underway. 

Simultaneously, we are collaborating with other university hospital districts to build a government-funded, national ‘virtual hospital’ at HealthVillage.fi. Several hubs have already opened, including Weight Management Hub, Women’s Hub and Pain Relief Hub. By 2018 we will have launched a further 20, covering a wide range of specialist healthcare, patient groups and disorders. 

Again, the objective is to make services more accessible and affordable and create a flexible platform that can be adapted to meet the needs of overseas healthcare providers. Working closely with the government’s Team Finland, we are seeking out international partnerships that will drive healthcare innovation across Europe and beyond.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

E: grigori.joffe@hus.fi

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

W: www.mentalhub.fi

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

BMA calls on government to aim for smoke-free society by 2035

26/05/2017BMA calls on government to aim for smoke-free society by 2035

Doctors have today called on the government to introduce a ‘Tobacco Control Plan’ to replace the outdated strategy on smoking in orde... more >
Only one in 10 CCGs take social value into account when commissioning

26/05/2017Only one in 10 CCGs take social value into account when commissioning

Only 13% of CCGs in England are actively committed to pursuing social value when making procurement and commissioning decisions, new research has... more >
Porter: NHS now in ‘year-round crisis’ and unlikely to recover

26/05/2017Porter: NHS now in ‘year-round crisis’ and unlikely to recover

Doctors have today warned that the NHS in England is “unlikely” to recover from of one of the worst winters on record which has now s... more >
Investing in success: NHS priorities for politicians over the next five years

26/05/2017Investing in success: NHS priorities for politicians over the next five years

Ahead of the general election on 8 June, Ferelith Gaze, head of public affairs at NHS Providers, argues that we must invest in the NHS as an inve... more >

interviews

Tight timetable for nursing associate  regulation

28/03/2017Tight timetable for nursing associate regulation

Jackie Smith, chief executive at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), talks to NHE’s David Stevenson about the challenges her organisat... more >
Improving the flow

13/02/2017Improving the flow

Glen Burley, chief executive of South Warwickshire NHS FT, explains how his organisation has been able to improve patient flow through its emerge... more >
Leadership development should be for all in health and care

07/12/2016Leadership development should be for all in health and care

Back in August, Stephen Hart joined Health Education England (HEE) as the organisation’s new director of leadership development, which incl... more >
The powerful link between staff and patient satisfaction

03/10/2016The powerful link between staff and patient satisfaction

David Behan CBE, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), talks to NHE about the correlation between high rates of staff satisfactio... more >
Dame Fiona Caldicott: We’re not quite ready for sharing back-office function on data security

07/07/2016Dame Fiona Caldicott: We’re not quite ready for sharing back-office function on data security

NHE’s David Stevenson talks to Dame Fiona Caldicott following her much-awaited Review of Data Security, Consent and Opt-Outs. In the f... more >

last word

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Foreign patient charges are a distraction from the real issues

Vivek Kotecha, research officer at the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI), explains why the charging of foreign patients distracts from our home-grown NHS issues.  The Dep... more > more last word articles >

comment

A single approach for purchasing HCTEDs

11/04/2017A single approach for purchasing HCTEDs

Andy Leary, finance director of specialised commissioning (National) at NHS England, discusses the new system for buying and supplying high-cost ... more >
Filling the void and standardising security

07/04/2017Filling the void and standardising security

Jayne King, chair of the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) and head of security, portering and reception services at Guy’... more >
Considerable scope for improving how local areas tackle smoking

07/04/2017Considerable scope for improving how local areas tackle smoking

Amanda Sandford, information manager at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), discusses the need to strengthen local relationships in tackling smok... more >
Fear barriers to help-seeking in the UK

07/04/2017Fear barriers to help-seeking in the UK

Jon Paxman, 2020health senior researcher, explains why reducing fear barriers may be essential to promoting timely help-seeking, improving health... more >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Manchester emergency services praised as city unites against attack

24/05/2017Manchester emergency services praised as city unites against attack

Praise has been heaped on Manchester’s emergency services and wider community as the city came together around the worst terrorist attack in its history. On Monday evening a suicide bomber, who has been named as Salman Abedi, a Libyan national who lived in South Manchester, detonated a homemade nail bomb after an Ariana Grande conce... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >