26 June 2018

Member Spotlight June 2018

Aleksei Norden from the Estonian Mental Health Society tells us more about the organisation in this month’s MHE Member Spotlight

Estonian Mental Health Society in a few lines


The Estonian Mental Health Society (EMHS) was founded in 1997 as an organisation uniting different specialists working in the mental health field: psychologists, doctors, teachers, social workers, and students. We work on prevention, promoting good mental health and wellbeing, and the strengthening of psycho-social adaptation of people in Estonia, including adults and children.

EMHS’s beginnings


The first EMHS projects were based on psychological help and integration and were designed to increase tolerance of different cultures. Other early EMHS programmes provided psychological crisis care and psychological assistance to victims of catastrophes and accidents. This focus was linked to the 1994 MS Estonia ferry disaster, in which over 850 people died, and Estonia’s longstanding high suicide rates.


Another early EMHS programme was Big Brother, Big Sister, a volunteer scheme which we began in 1997. Originating in the USA more than 100 years ago, the programme combines children in need of support with volunteers who can provide support. EMHS ran Big Brother, Big Sister for several years and it has helped many young people and adults to form strong social networks which continue to offer mutual support during difficult times. From the beginning, work with young people has been a mainstay of EMHS’s work.


Support for young people


Since 2003 EMHS has provided psychological and socio-psychological help for children and adolescents through a web-based project – www.lapsemure.ee. It is a forum where children, teenagers, parents and professionals can discuss and address various topics. This includes issues and concerns around communication, sexuality, addictions, violence, mental and physical health, education, children’s rights protection, and much more.


To date, more than 30,000 participants are registered on the forum and several thousand new topics appear every year. The website is overseen by professional consultants and permanently monitored by administrators. In parallel with the forum, psychological counselling is available by phone.


ENHS also run international youth exchange projects and seminars, support-groups for children and parents from ‘at risk’ families, and a psychosocial rehabilitation programme for children and families who have lost a close family member, which includes a therapeutic summer camp for young people.


Employment support


Since 2009, and in collaboration with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, EMHS has provided social-psychological services to people who are unemployed or at risk of unemployment. We use various approaches which draw on the experience of European countries, alongside specially developed methods, to meet the specific issues in the Estonia labour market. This includes clubs for unemployed people, group counselling, labour skills programmes, self-help groups and volunteers. These techniques have proved effective, but we constantly work to improve further.


Other specialist support


ENHS offers psychological training and seminars on crisis psychology, and programme for children and youth-work specialists. We also provide supervision for social workers and teachers; family therapy and counselling; and individual psychological counselling, crisis counselling and posttraumatic therapy.


Looking to the future


Building on our strengths, we are hoping to collaborate with others to provide projects in the following areas:

  • Protection of children and young people, including psychological assistance to children and the development of non-formal programmes;
  • Social integration, anti-racism, and intercultural interaction at the regional and European level;
  • Psychological crisis care, crisis counselling, long-term post-crisis support, and the development and distribution of methods of post-crisis counselling and prevention.

Where can we hear from you?


If you are a young person in Estonia looking for support visit the forum – www.lapsemure.ee.


To contact the organisation, email, call or visit:


+372 6460770

Süda str. 1, 10118, Tallinn, Estonia

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