World Mental Health Day was celebrated on October 10th. This year, G.A.P decided to join in Mieli’s campaign to highlight the positive effects of true listening, genuine presence and being heard on our mental health.

The following article deals with depression, suicidal thoughts, isolation and gaslighting. It has been produced as a response to our Open Call for a blog post in which we invited aspiring writers, bloggers or anyone interested to share their personal story about struggles with inclusion that essentially led them feeling secluded, anxious and unworthy.

This story aims to inspire and motive those who have been suffering alone, feeling unable to speak up and open up about their problems to others. It is important to remember that you are not alone and it is not a shame to ask for help.

To respect the author’s decision to remain incognito, the following blog is published anonymously.

Good, but not good enough. Bad, but not bad enough.

In 2017, Finland ruled that they will begin charging students from non-EU countries tuition fees ranging from 7,000 to 15,000 euros, in addition to providing funding for personal expenses on a yearly basis amounting to approximately 6,700 euros. While the government encourages international students to remain in Finland and give back to the Finnish society, all the requirements for the student permit can only produce a B type permit. This permit is considered temporary and does not give access to social security benefits of any sort, as opposed to the A type permit, which is considered permanent and gives access to social security benefits. For citizens of the European union and EEA, moving to Finland is registered as a permanent move, regardless of how temporary it actually is. Essentially this leave international students from outside of the European union in a social welfare limbo. My experience understanding and maneuvering through these regulations was as such:

My first fall in Finland was a fog. The international student tutor I was assigned invited me for lunch at the student cafeteria, praising the excellent quality of life in Finland; praising the excellent quality of life for women in Finland. Women in Finland have it great here. Women who have immigrated to Finland have it great here. Maybe I am the wrong type of woman who has immigrated to Finland.

My first winter in Finland was a fog. My white Fininish professors think I’m lucky to be here, they tell me to Google search definitions of Islamophobia for my thesis which deals with Islamophobia, they don’t think they can change my thesis supervisor. They suggest with sympathetic eyes “maybe you should go speak to a therapist.” They have the option to go speak to a therapist.

My first summer in Finland was a fog. The European exchange students enthusiastically encourage me to go socialize with them. Summer is when you socialize in Finland. They are enthusiastic they just got their monthly funding and they want to celebrate it by socializing. “I need to work in the summer,” “I have to save money”. They tell me I need to apply for the monthly funding so I can join their socializing. They can receive funding.

My second year in Finland was a fog. I work at an organization that provides services to Arabic women seeking asylum. They teach women Finnish by practicing it with them so the women can “integrate.” They talk to me in Finnish so I can integrate. “Sorry I got confused between you and THEM.” They think I’m lucky to be here. They won’t pay me for the work I do.

My second year in Finland was a fog. I need help. I say “I need help.” I call the student health services to get help. “I want to set an appointment to get help.” “What are your symptoms?” “I have had anxiety attacks. I have thought of killing myself. I am unwell.” “Bring your KELA card and come to the student health center” “I don’t have a KELA card. I need help.” “I would wait until you have your health coverage. Good luck.” They think everyone will get coverage.

I still need help. I say loudly that I still need help and I can’t get help. I make people who have access to health insurance uncomfortable by saying loudly that I can’t get help.
Women who have immigrated to Finland have it great here. They think we are all the same woman.

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Seeking help for mental help problems: You can seek help for mental health problems from, for example, health care centres, occupational health care, specialised psychiatric care, private clinics, private psychotherapists, the church and various organisations which provide and maintain different kinds of mental health services.

MIELI Mental Health Finland 

Crisis Helpline in Arabic and English
call 09 2525 0113
on Mon, Tue at 11-15, Wed at 13-16 and 17-21. Thu at 10-15

Crisis Helpline in Swedish
call 09 2525 0112
on Mon, Wed at 16-20, Tue, Thu and Fri at 9-13

Crisis service for foreigners / For appointments call
(09) 4135 0510
Open on Mon-Thu 9- 12 and 13-15, on Fri 9-12

SOS Crisis Centre
Maistraatinportti 4A, 4th floor
00240 Helsinki
sos-keskus@mieli.fi