The Evaluation of a National Level Strategic Mental Health Program: Case Finland


University of Tampere, School of Health Sciences, Tampere, Finland


In Finland, a governmental initiative was taken in 2005 to develop a national level strategic mental health plan or program. A task force involving researchers, developers, and mental health professionals, published the Mieli 2009 (“Mind 2009”) program in 2009 for a road map for promoting mental health and developing better services during 2009 – 2015.

The Mieli 2009 program had four thematic initiatives: 1) improving client orientation; 2) improving earlier intervening and activity; 3) integrating and developing mental health and substance abuse services; and 4) developing legislation and steering regarding national mental health and substance abuse service needs.

When the Mieli 2009 program ended in 2015, its successfulness and effectiveness were thoroughly evaluated by both qualitative and quantitative methods. While most national and aggregate-level data, related to for instance suicide incidence, alcohol consumption or psychiatric hospital use, were indicative of improvements in mental health, promotive or preventive interventions and strategies for earlier activity had not been very successful. Some integration of services had occurred, but steering or national-level management of the mental health systems, had not developed in a notable amount.

Altogether, a need for strategic planning of services as well as the promotion of mental health still exists.