The service is good! The 2020 Youth Barometer


Päivi Berg & Sami Myllyniemi (eds.)

The Youth Barometer is an interview study that measures the values and attitudes of young people aged 15–29 living in Finland. It has been carried out annually since 1994. The theme of the 2020 Youth Barometer is public services. The Youth Barometer is based on 1,938 phone interviews.

Service experiences were studied in the interviews by asking about the use of, need for and adequacy of services, and experiences of the service system. The service types asked about varied from preventive services intended for individuals or clearly targeted services to universal services.

The most commonly used services studied were health services, which had been used at least once in the preceding 12 months by a total of 67 per cent of respondents. Of the respondents, 38 per cent had used school or student health services, 17 per cent had used employment office services and 14 per cent had used mental health services. Clearly fewer respondents had used the other services asked about. The young people had not used the majority of the services because they did not feel they needed them. Respondents were also asked about their use of leisure and cultural services. 53 per cent of all 15–29-year olds often use services for self-guided hobbies, 44 per cent public transport, 34 per cent sports and exercise services, such as swimming pools or sports grounds, and 25 per cent libraries. The other services that were asked about, such as youth work and parish services, were used clearly much less frequently.

All the young people who had the need to use a service were asked about the adequacy of this service. The two most widely used services, health services and school and student health services, were also felt to be the most adequate. 95 per cent felt that they were at least at a quite adequate level. 85 per cent felt the provision of employment office services and 84 per cent felt the provision of mental health services were at least quite adequate. 69 per cent felt the provision of youth workshop services, 68 per cent felt the One-Stop Guidance Center services and 57 per cent felt that outreach youth work services were adequate. Services that were felt to be the most inadequate of the services studied were the help provided for gambling problems, which 20 per cent felt were at least rather inadequate, and debt counselling services, which 22 per cent of respondents felt were at least rather inadequate. The interpretation of the adequacy of some services is hampered by the fact that the group of respondents who did not know how to or did not want to assess the services was large, which indicates that they are not very familiar with the service.

A clear majority of the young people using social services, such as family services, home help services for families with children or services for the disabled, feel that they have received them adequately, and almost all of them feel that they have received them at least fairly adequately. Almost all those who have needed the services have also received them. The adequacy of social services is not quite as good as the adequacy of all the services offered, such as healthcare, but they are felt, on average, to be more adequate than other special services, such as debt counselling.

In addition to the use and adequacy of services, we also looked into the young persons’ experience of the actual services. Overall, the service experiences of young people have been very positive. The majority feel that in the services things have been explained to them in an understandable manner. Relatively few feel that they have had to explain their case several times or to different employees, although in mental health services as many as one in four young people has had this type of negative experience. A broad majority of respondents feel they have been to influence matters. In all the services studied, over three quarters feel that they have received the help they need fully or quite well. Almost all young people in all services share the experience that the staff have treated them in a respectful way. This figure is lowest for employment office services, as 71 per cent fully agree with the fact that they have been treated in a respectful way.

Some of the experiences asked about were focused on the availability of services from the perspective of whether they are a long distance away, whether access to the service was quick or whether the respondent’s financial situation made it harder to access the services. The geographical accessibility of the services was relatively good. Most frequently, outreach youth work and One-Stop Guidance Centers were felt to be difficult to get to, and about one in ten of respondents felt that accessibility to them was at least quite difficult. The share of respondents who felt that they had quickly gained access to the service was, in all the services asked about, at least about four out of five. Financial situation had a lower impact on access to services than the geographical factor, as at least 85 per cent, regarding all the services asked about, replied that financial situation did not pose any problems at all. On the other hand, more than one in ten of those using mental health services reported that financial situation had, to some extent, affected accessing the services. At least 7 per cent of young people have been subjected to direct discrimination or prejudice against themselves at least in some of the services. This proportion can be considered high considering that the Non-discrimination Act prohibits discrimination. The risk of discrimination is greater than average for young people who feel that they belong to a minority, and for those who have experience of child welfare services at comprehensive school age.

Trust in obtaining the necessary public-sector services is high, particularly in the case of emergency treatment for acute serious illness, and 62 per cent of young people have complete trust in receiving this. The corresponding proportion is half in the case of regular treatment for less acute illnesses, but in the other types of need for help that were studied, a minority of young people have complete trust in receiving help. Trust in receiving help is weakest in relation to home help services, housing and gambling problems. However, also in these, a clear majority agree at least to some extent that it is possible to receive assistance if necessary.

Questions on young people's views on their own health provided background information for the questions on services. A total of 21 per cent of young people answer yes to the question on whether they have a long-term illness or a health problem, and girls more frequently (25%) than boys (18%). 12 per cent of young people reported having a mental health problem. The accumulation of problems is illustrated by the fact that young people with no education, who are unemployed and who have been child welfare clients experience both mental health and other health problems more often than on average.

93 per cent of young people have e-services access codes and 99 per cent of those aged 20 and over. 63 per cent say they want to use the services they need as e-services as much as possible, and only 15 per cent are not interested in using e-services. However, 12 per cent of young people feel e-services are difficult to find, and the same percentage feel they are difficult to use. Foreign-language speakers relatively often feel that e-services are difficult to use (16%) or difficult to find (21%). Other background factors that increase the risk of experiencing e-services as a problem include a child welfare background, a health or mental health problem and the feeling of belonging to a minority.

The Youth Barometer’s service theme is supplemented by the question of how much responsibility different operators should have for the wellbeing of Finns. Young people think that each individual should be primarily responsible for their own wellbeing. After the individual, young people would like to see the state, municipalities, schools and educational institutions as the most important operators with responsibility for the wellbeing of Finns. After this they see families and relatives, friends and other acquaintances. They would like companies to have clearly less responsibility, and NGOs and various religious communities to have even less responsibility that this. Compared with the Youth Barometer in 2013, the emphasis on an individual's responsibility has further increased. More and more people would also like operators in the public sector to have a stronger role than before.

The strength of the sense of belonging to various social units has been monitored in Youth Barometers since 2004. The sense of belonging to Finnish society has strengthened over the past five years, and belonging to Europe, the European Union and the global community has also strengthened sharply over the past decade or so.

The trend in the monitoring indicators related to coping with everyday activities and life management has mainly moved in a positive direction. A positive trend is evident in both the self-esteem of young people and in their perception of the meaningfulness of daily life and the solutions associated with their own lives. Degree of social trust, however, is declining. In 2015, 9 per cent agreed with the statement “It is best not to trust anyone” compared with as many as 14 per cent of young people in 2020.

The effects of lack of money have been monitored in Youth Barometers since 2015. About one in three has at least some time not been able to start a hobby because of lack of money, about one in four has given up a hobby because of lack of money and about one in five has not been able to meet friends because of lack of money. Trend data indicate that giving up a hobby and not being able to start a hobby have become slightly more common over five years, and this is the same for not being able to meet friends. All these indicators were, however, even weaker in the 2017 barometer, so the most recent development in the trend is positive.