Since its launch in March this year, the Arabic-language crisis hotline established by the Finnish Association for Mental Health to meet the needs of an 'underserved segment' of the population has received over 400 calls, national broadcaster Yle reported.
According to social psychologist Susanna Winter, who is in charge of the hotline, many of the callers were dealing with anxiety and depression brought by the asylum process. She stressed that many refugees waiting for their applications to be processed suffer from loneliness and isolation, while others reportedly were traumatised by past events.
"They don't want to worry people back home and want to project an image of everything being alright now that they are in a safe country like Finland," Winter explained.
Winter stressed that the Arabic-language hotline has drawn markedly more calls from young people than its Finnish-language counterpart launched by the same organisation. One of the most urgent problems the callers report is the conflict of values they experience.
"Young people want to talk about the cultural differences between their new homeland and attitudes held by their parents," Winter explained.
According to Winter, there is also a discrepancy between Finnish and Arabic callers. While Finns most often seek help for problems they have developed over the years, callers to the Arabic line complain about things happening in their lives right now.
The hotline, which is funded by the state-owned national betting agency Veikkaus, is manned by professional crisis workers and trained volunteers.
In 2017, Arabic became Finland's third most common foreign language, as native speakers of Arabic outnumbered those of Somali and English, Statistics Finland reported. Senior statisticians saw a clear link between the rise in Arabic speakers and the influx of asylum seekers starting from 2015, particularly from Iraq and Syria. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, Finland gained over 5,000 Arabic-speaking residents.
At the end of 2016, there were over 350,000 foreign-speaking people living in Finland. The top foreign languages spoken natively in the country are Russian and Estonian.