Organisations, officials, and peer supporters join forces:Suomi.fi has three new kinds of guides with approaches focusing on people's life situations
The aim of the new guides on Suomi.fi is to offer all relevant information easily at one address. Organisations, officials, and other entities offering peer support were involved in planning the guides. The guides came online on 29 September.
Themes for the new guides include informal care, separation from a spouse, as well as substance abuse and compulsive gambling.
The Suomi.fi online service has always been based on content focusing on life situations. At the outset, the new guides enable users to give background information anonymously on their situations or to select topics that are of interest to them. Based on these choices, the user is offered appropriate content: instructions and information on available services and peer support.
Basic information for understanding one's own problems with alcohol, drugs, or gambling
If the use of intoxicants or gambling appears to be causing problems in your everyday life, it is best not to brood over the problem alone.
“I recommend the guide to all gamblers. As a phenomenon, compulsive gambling is an unfamiliar one and involves plenty of shame. The guide helps in identifying and understanding one's own predicament”, says Hanna Karmakka-Asare, who took part in planning the guide. She works at Tiitti, an information and support organisation for those with a gambling problem, and for their next of kin. “I believe that the guide is useful also for close relatives and professionals.”
Jukka Jokinen of Suomen Päihderiippuvaiset ry, an organisation for people with substance dependency issues, feels that the greatest benefits from the guide are that it gives those with dependency issues a clear compilation of instructions on where and how to get help. “Previously there were some isolated instructions scattered over different sites. A person with a dependence on intoxicants lacks either the strength, or the interest to surf the internet for information. When information about the options is easy to find, it could inspire someone to seek help.” Jokinen, who took part in planning the guide, currently serves as vice chair of Suomen Päihderiippuvaiset ry and helps people at the municipal health care centre in Sipoo as an expert by experience.
Both Jokinen and Karmakka-Asare feel that the factual information in the guide about dependence on intoxicants and gambling are important. Both types of dependence are linked with prejudices, shame, and guilt, which might keep people from seeking help. The guide helps understand that people do not have to be alone with the problem, and that help is available.
Getting started with a first aid package of an informal carer
The informal carers’ guide gives advice in everyday practical matters and in different kinds of transitional situations. It is directed both at individuals who are only considering changing their role to that of an informal carer, and for those who have already been involved in informal care.
“When a person considers becoming an informal carer, so many things have happened that raise emotions have taken place that their own thoughts are unclear. In that situation the guide is a first-aid package to help get started”, explains Meeri Rinta-Jouppi, who took part in the planning of the guide. She has been an informal carer and has held posts in the Carers Finland organisation.
According to Rinta-Jouppi, the key contribution of the guide is that it gives an overall picture and helps in parsing and piecing together the person's own situation step by step.
“Will you become an informal carer? What does being an informal carer entail? What am I entitled to? Information on matters such as support, services, or days off for informal carers is not easy to find.”
It is extremely important that the guide to directs the informal carer to seek support in coping and in getting peer support. If you do not look after yourself, you will not have the strength to care for another person. It is also good to recognise that it is possible to admit to not being able to cope.”
She also praises the guide for being easy to understand and for the multidisciplinary cooperation to ensure clarity.
Checklist of matters to be dealt with both for couples who are divorcing and for family counsellors
The third guide to be released in September is for couples and families with problems in their relationships. The guide contains information for families and couples about available services and support. The guide offers advice on the practical arrangements, such as initiating a divorce, housing and financial matters, as well as questions linked with the division of property. For families with children there is also information on matters of custody, and child support.
“The guide has successfully compiled information for different separation situations in a versatile but also a concise manner. Another benefit is that it tells about services – both those offered by our organisations, as well as municipal, and other public sector services”, says Päivi Hietanen of the Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters, who participated in writing the guide as an expert on divorce in families with children.
“It is a good checklist both for people going through a divorce and for professionals giving them advice.
More new kinds of guides are coming
More new guides of different types will be produced later in the Suomi.fi online service to support citizens and companies in different situations, says Lauri Markkanen of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. Guides on issues such as advocacy and corporate data security situations are being planned.
“We are developing the content of the Suomi.fi service both by creating completely new guides and developing our existing extensive supply of content. Our most important goal is to offer users clear directions for life situations that might seem burdensome and difficult in any case. We want to do what we can to reduce the need for running from one window to another. It is in everyone's interest that a customer should find the help they need as easily as possible.”
“Many thanks to all officials, offices, organisations, and experts by experience, with whom we have been able to put the guides together. We will also continue to cooperate extensively on the upcoming new content.”
Check out our new guides
Extensive cooperation used in planning the guides
Participants in the planning of the guide for problems involving alcohol, drugs, and gambling include A-Clinic Foundation, EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention, Peliklinikka / Tieto- ja tukipiste Tiltti, Suomen Päihderiippuvaiset ry, and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL.
Taking part in the guide for informal carers were Folkhälsan, Kehitysvammaisten Tukiliitto, Carers Finland and its member associations, Vammaisperheyhdistys Jaatinen, the Development and Administration centre for ELY Centres and TE Offices, Kela, THL, Essote, and the cities of Kauniainen, Naantali, and Rovaniemi.
Taking part in the planning of the guide for couples who are considering a divorce or in the process of divorcing include the City of Helsinki, The Helsinki Legal Aid Office, Kela, Pirkanmaa District Court, the Police, and Victim Support Finland. Also taking part in the planning is an extensive array of third sector actors, such as the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, the Family Federation of Finland, Barnavårdsföreningen, Rainbow Families Finland, Familia ry, Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters, Isät lasten asialla, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Maria-Akatemia, MONIKA – Multicultural Women’s Association Finland, Miessakit ry, Women's Line, Nollalinja, Suomen Kasper, Tukikeskus Varjo, hden Vanhemman Perheiden Liitto ry.