9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Mental Health Issues in Europe I Building I, 1E2

Mood Disorders and the transforming mental health care in Finland: The case of education and guidance

Mood Disorders (Depression and Bipolar Disorder) are among the most common and disabling mental disorders. World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020 Depression will be the 2nd leading contributor to global burden of disease (DALY). Furthermore, Mood Disorders epitomise a cultural climate, where a wide range of feelings, behaviours and traits of a human being have become to be understood as something that can and must be treated as illnesses. This situation has challenged the mental health policy and care both nationally and EU-widely.

This paper takes a perspective into these transformations and challenges of European mental health care through the analysis of education and guidance provided on Mood Disorders in Finland. The paper reports the preliminary findings in an ongoing PhD study analysing mood disorders in the Nordic welfare state of Finland from 1970's to the present. The aim of this paper is to take into consideration the ways psychiatric knowledge and mental health policy reach the layman through education. The analysis is based on a diverse array of qualitative data: printed and Internet based guides, manuals, questionnaires and mood charts, as well as lay experiences and perspectives on a discussion forum. The perspective of the analysis takes its inspiration from the writings of Michel Foucault and his followers, as well as the Actor Network Theorists.

The paper will first introduce the problematisation of Mood Disorders as inadequately diagnosed and treated public health problems in Finland. Then, the paper will go more deeply into one of the preventive means to meet this challenge: education and guidance directed to laymen. It is suggested that the practice of education forms a technique of mood control. As a technique of mood control, education provides ways to manage daily life with Mood Disorders and more profoundly creates the spaces of possibilities to become the subject of one?s own life. Moreover, it is shown how the practice of education reflects the transformations in the dynamics of the different actors in the field of mental health care and psychiatry in Finnish society.