Depressed in ‘the world’s happiest country’ Finland
Is that possible? you may be wondering.
Finland, a country ranking at the top of the charts, 4 years in a row as ‘the world’s happiest country’.
Yet, mental health problems are not rare, on the contrary, Finland is one of the highest ranking countries in depression.
To find out why, we have to look at several facts about Finland.
A country large in landmass, yet low in population. Resulting in low social skills and contacts.
Ending up with a lonesome feeling, most of the time.
A country darkened by winter, ~6 months per year. Hibernating through the cold period, year after year.
A country with fairly warm summer, for just ~3 months each year. Before your body is properly adjusted, winter is already lurking.
At some point in just about everyone’s life, we are affected by poor mental health. An estimated 1 in every 6 people experience a mental health problem.
In Finland, which has the highest estimated incidence of mental disorders in the EU, close to 1 in 5 are affected.
What is good mental health? Someone who can cope with the normal ups and downs of life, work productively, and contribute to their community.
Mental illness is the loss of mental health, and of that ability to cope.
In Finland, like in other EU countries, the most common mental disorders are anxiety and depressive disorders.
These illnesses, along with conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, can affect people for only a short time, like a couple of weeks or months, but can also affect their whole life.
Mental illness affects absolutely everyone, rich and poor, male and female, young and old.
However, some population groups are particularly vulnerable to mental ill-health.
In Finland, men in the lowest income group are nearly five times more likely than men in the highest income group to report chronic depression.
Starting in the 1980s, Finland embarked on a series of national suicide strategies.
The government focused on improving treatment for mental illness. These efforts helped bring down Finland’s overall suicide rate by over 50%.
Despite this progress, about 750 Finns still die every year from suicide.
The good news is that more people are talking about mental health, a major step forward in reducing the stigma around mental illness, and helping people get the support and treatment they need and deserve…
When you ask a Finn the best thing about Finland, the answer is: Nature.
Finland is Europe’s most forested country. About 70% of the land is covered with trees.
These forests are still natural in the sense that hardly any non-native trees have been planted.
Finland is reputed to be the Land of a Thousand Lakes, but in fact the country has tens of thousands of lakes.
The same is true of Finland’s intricate coastline, which features around 95,000 sea islands.
Nature has also successfully established a foothold in towns and cities, which by European standards are mainly small, and offer easy access to natural green areas.
Heading off to the holiday home ‘Mökki’ is a deeply rooted tradition among Finns.
Finland’s liberal rights of common access enable everyone to roam freely through forests and other natural areas.
A country with 4 beautiful seasons, with winter taking the lead. It is important to take care of your physical and mental health during this season.
Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Positive thoughts attract positive energy.
Last but not least, supply yourself with foods fortified with vitamin D.
Thank you for being here with me, together we explore and walk our way through Finland.
I hope to see you in the next (or one of my previous) scene. Take care and have a great rest of your day.
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)