Nordic and Baltic Cooperation Seminar in Estonia on August 25, 2024

Three representatives from the Finnish Central Association for Mental Health (MTKL) participated in a seminar held in Võnnu, Estonia, in August 2024. The seminar aimed to be a kickstart for a cooperation network among mental health organizations in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The
event was organized by the Estonian local mental health association Aedorkester and was funded through the NGO program.

Representatives from Estonia, Sweden (RSMH), Finland and Latvia attended the seminar. Estonia was represented by several different associations from Tallinn and the Tartu region.

Among the participants were a housing service provider, a clubhouse, a disability association, and volunteer-
run associations offering low-threshold activities.

Throughout the day, we heard presentations about the state of mental health services in Estonia, including the support for employment of people with partial work capacity and the opportunities to strengthen the inclusion of disadvantaged groups through community means across different age
groups. A psychiatrist also gave a talk on new treatment options for mental disorders, including the use of nutritional therapies.

During the day, there were discussions about the situations in different countries, particularly regarding access to treatment. It was noted that all countries face a common issue of insufficient availability of psychotherapy or difficulty in accessing it. However, unlike in the Nordic countries,
Estonia’s family doctor model ensures a quicker initial contact for mental health problems.

One of the objectives of the meeting was to establish and organize a common network for the Nordic and Baltic countries to share information and strengthen the conditions for peer support activities within mental health organizations. It was decided to continue network discussions
through online meetings, and MTKL plans to try to activate its local associations to join the network. Local associations could offer more to the network from the perspective of peer support practices and development.
We embarked on the trip with a sense of adventure, which turned out to be a good attitude.

Despite well-managed travel arrangements, we were a bit surprised to find half-platoon tent accommodations in the yard of a farm tourism site, with roosters crowing and waking us at three in the morning. However, we concluded that good company and a humorous attitude go a long
way. On the return trip, we enjoyed Tallinn’s sights from the top of a church tower as our guide Kalle led us through Tallinn’s history and culture. Thanks to the wonderful people of Aedorkester for all the arrangements!