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Social welfare and health care services

Health and well-being must be ensured at the different stages of immigration and integration. In Finland, municipalities provide various services to support health and wellbeing; such as services for children, young people and families, mental health services and services for persons with disabilities; immigrants have the right to use many of these. Private social welfare and health care services are also available.

Right to social welfare and health care services varies depending on the grounds for being in the country and the municipality of residence

The right to use social welfare and health care services (health and social services) and the responsibilities for organising services vary depending on the residence status of the immigrant and the municipality of residence:

  •  An immigrant with a residence permit and a permanent municipality of residence in Finland has the right to health services and to social security and services regardless of nationality.
  • Asylum seekers are entitled to urgent and necessary health care. 
    • Asylum seekers who are minors are entitled to health services on the same grounds as residents. 
    • Social services provide asylum seekers with the necessary services to secure the necessary means of subsistence and care.
  • In addition to urgent care, undocumented adults are entitled to non-urgent services based on a consideration by healthcare professionals. The aim is to collect the costs from the customer.
  • Municipalities must provide needs-based social services to undocumented persons that will ensure necessary care and livelihood in urgent cases. A municipality must provide services for undocumented children in such a way that the rights of the child are realised.

If the person who has moved to Finland does not have a municipality of residence, Kela can determine his or her right to public health care on the basis of employment. Many workplaces also use occupational healthcare. 

If an immigrant lives in Finland on a permanent basis, he or she is usually covered by Finland’s health insurance and can receive compensation for the costs of private health care and medicines. Compensation may also be paid for care provided abroad. They can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card from Kela. 

Wellbeing services counties participate in integration work

At the beginning of 2023, responsibility for organising social welfare, healthcare and rescue services was transferred from municipalities and joint municipal authorities to 21 wellbeing services counties. In addition, the City of Helsinki is responsible for organising healthcare, social welfare and rescue services. Separate provisions have been laid down for the HUS Group on its responsibility for organising tasks related to specialised healthcare in its area.

Wellbeing services counties also have responsibilities related to integration and the reception of refugees. A wellbeing services county may establish a family group home or other residential unit intended for children and young persons. The wellbeing services county also agrees with the municipality and the ELY Centre on the placement of children and young people in the established units and on the organisation of services that promote their integration. The wellbeing services county may participate in preparing an initial assessment of immigrants and/or an integration plan at the request of the municipality or the TE Office. The wellbeing services county may also be involved in drawing up the municipal integration programme.

Social and health care services for children, young people and families

Health and social services promote the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families. Services include a family centre, a maternity and child health clinic, student services, child welfare services.

Mental health services

A person permanently living in Finland can seek help for mental health problems from their own health centre. Organisations can also provide support.

The PALOMA Center of Expertise coordinated by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) promotes the mental health of people with refugee or similar backgrounds who have moved to Finland. The Center of Expertise provides information, tools, training and networking for professionals and organisations. 

The video series “Mental health for migration” provides information for refugees on the various aspects of mental health and wellbeing and their promotion. Professionals and people who have moved to Finland speak about mental health on the videos. The videos are available in Finnish, Arabic, Dari, Congolese Swahili, English, Ukrainian and Russian. The videos were produced by the THL’s TUULI project. 

More information on mental health promotion, mental disorders and mental health services in Finland is available on the THL website, for example.

Support and assistance for those who have experienced violence

An immigrant may have experienced violence before moving to Finland. They may also be victims of exploitation or crime. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has produced information on preventing and intervening in violence and has compiled information on services intended for victims of violence.

A hate crime is a crime motivated by prejudices or hostility towards a particular personal characteristic of the victim. Hate crimes may include violence, defamation, discrimination, threats, bullying or damage. 

The police must be notified of violence, abuse and criminal offences and their suspicion.

Services for people with disabilities

Different services are available in Finland for people with disabilities. Such services include transport services, aids or personal assistants. The purpose of the services is to facilitate participation in society and life with a disability. Immigrants with a residence permit and a municipality of residence in Finland have the right to services for the persons with disabilities provided by the municipality.

Treatment of substance abuse

Substance abuse treatment refers to various outpatient and institution care services that provide treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse problems Some services may also be technology-assisted.

Services for older people

According to studies, an immigrant’s background has an impact on the fact that ageing can start earlier, for some already at the age of 55. The earlier start of ageing is influenced by such factors as the possible health risks associated with migration, the language barrier and the foreign nature of the service system in the new home country as well as the attitudes of society towards foreign-language speakers on the one hand and ageing on the other. 
Although the majority of elderly people manage independently, the need for help is increasing, especially in the last years of life. In Finland, municipalities provide various social and health care services for older people as needed.

The content of the page has been produced in cooperation with the THL Monet expert group.