Ombudsman for Children encourages parents to seek specialist help

The Ombudsman for Children has cooperated with specialists to prepare a counselling booklet on ways of obtaining psychological and psychiatric help.

Andra Reinomägi, an adviser from the Children’s Rights Department of the Chancellor of Justice, says surveys indicate that parents often do not know where and in which cases to seek help in the case of problems with their children, or they are simply afraid to do so. “The purpose of this booklet is to give parents information about ways of receiving help and to encourage them to seek information or assistance if they have any issues or doubts when raising their children,” said Reinomägi. She added that the booklet explains when parents should turn to specialists for assistance or advice, which specialist to choose and what options there are for getting psychological and psychiatric help in Estonia. “The booklet gives detailed information about the counselling for children and parents that is offered in Estonia, either free or for a charge, and also contains the necessary contact details,” she explained. “The booklet also has references to literature about how to raise children.”

Reinomägi says there are various reasons why parents are afraid to contact specialists for assistance – they fear accusations or are afraid to talk about sensitive issues. “In fact, it’s the person who comes for counselling who decides what gets discussed and what they’re prepared to change in the way they act or think; nobody is forced to do anything during counselling sessions,” said Reinomägi. She added that questions about the protection of privacy and confidential information often arise in the case of counselling. “It doesn’t matter whether you go to a psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor for help – they never disclose anything that you’ve discussed with them,” she explained.

Reinomägi says that it is extremely important for parents to understand that the sooner they start dealing with a problem, the easier it will be for specialists to help. They should also get past the prejudice that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Reinomägi notes that this tendency is fortunately changing and that more and more people understand that the ability and courage to seek help show a person’s inner strength and prove that they care about themselves and their loved ones.

The booklet was compiled by family therapist Meelike Saarna, while helping to edit the book in addition to the advisers of the Ombudsman for Children were specialists Merle Ameljušenko, Anne Kleinberg, Pille Murrik and Pille Teder. The booklet is available in Estonian and Russian.

The Ombudsman for Children (www.lasteombudsman.ee) protects the rights of children and young people in communication with people and authorities that perform public duties. Estonia obtained an Ombudsman for Children on 19 March 2011 when the tasks of protecting and promoting the rights of children were assigned to Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder. The Office of the Chancellor of Justice has a Children’s Rights Department with four employees which performs the tasks of the Ombudsman for Children.