The priority of the supplementary social budget is to increase the provision of welfare services and mental health support in the COVID-19 crisis
The supplementary social budget supports the availability of mental health services. The budget will also support general, specialist and child welfare and rehabilitation institutions that are under pressure because of COVID-19 to maintain the mental health of the employees and to motivate them.
“Last year, the suicides of children and young people increased and there have been significant setbacks in people’s emotional coping. Related to this, it is necessary to offer various mental health services, round-the-clock crisis assistance and counselling, which is why additional 2.85 million euros will be provided to offer these services,” said Signe Riisalo, the Minister of Social Protection.
The additional budget will increase the capacity of the Social Insurance Board to provide mental health crisis assistance by involving additional service providers. With the telephone line and web chat options, counselling is offered to the entire population to support their mental health, emotional coping and family relationships. In addition, resources will be channelled to increase access to mental health services at the primary level.
According to the Minister, since the spring of 2020, due to the decrease in social communication, the self-harming behaviour of children and referring children to the service of a closed child care institution have significantly increased. Additional funding will help to increase the capacity to provide these children with the services they need.
The plan is to provide 1.2 million euros to support special care and rehabilitation institutions that are under pressure from COVID. Additional support is given to maintain the mental health and increase the motivation of employees working in special care and rehabilitation field. In order to prevent the COVID-19 infections, reimbursement of the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment for special care and rehabilitation institutions will be supported.
0.7 million euros will be used to cover the additional staff costs of general and special care homes and to pay bonuses for overtime in institutions where there are people who have caught COVID-19 prior to vaccination. Previously, Estonian Government has reimbursed the above-mentioned costs as one-off decisions from the Estonian Government’s reserve fund. Additional funding of 0.6 million euros will also be provided to general care staff for supervision service and psychological counselling to maintain the mental health of the staff, and there are plans to expand the provision of pastoral care in general care facilities with more than 60 spots for service and no state-supported pastoral care.
The supplementary budget will support local governments through the Ministry of Finance with an additional 15 million euros in order to ensure, among other things, sufficient socio-economic support for people in the time of crisis. The money can be used for families with children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups to alleviate the concerns connected to children's distance learning and increased care burdens or to support the provision of community-based mental health services and other needs-based support measures.
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