Remote towns and a lack of Greenlandic speaking therapists are parts of the country’s mental health issues. A new, scalable online platform in Greenlandic aims to help those struggling with their mental health.
In Greenland, the topic of mental health is becoming more and more important in public debates. Not least because the country has hit the international limelight for a very sad reason: having the highest suicide rate in the world.
Much has been done to prevent it, too.
To name a few examples: In 2020, Niviaq Korneliussen, one of the country’s foremost authors, wrote a novel about the topic. In 2023 the short film Ivalu which deals with suicide was nominated for an Oscar. And even more recently, a nationwide research project intending to train suicide prevention mentors across the coast has been implemented.
A common thread in all the preventative measures is a focus on mental health. But a recurring issue has been getting timely help to the country’s remote communities and providing that help in Greenlandic.
These two issues are what a new online platform called mindhelper.gl intends to solve.
A pat on the back
Mindhelper.gl is a new website launched by Aqqut, an organization that provides social and psychological counseling for students in Greenland. When you access the website, a series of articles and video courses awaits, both written and spoken in Greenlandic.
For now, the website’s main focus is to help Greenlanders battling with anxiety. The courses use the so-called ACT-method; a method that focuses on acceptance and commitment. The first video starts like this:
“Start by giving yourself a pat on the back. It’s good that you’re here. It’s a sign that you have hope. Hope that it will become easier to deal with anxiety. And it is exactly that hope which is super important to hold on to,” says Dina, the host of the video course. She speaks in a careful and soothing Greenlandic, looking straight into the camera.
The video course consists of seven different modules with up to nine different videos in each. In total, 28 videos are available on the website with titles ranging from “What Uncle Minik can teach you about inviting anxiety inside” to “What would you wish your best friend told you on your 80th birthday?”
The course also provides a range of mindfulness and breathing exercises, a rare offer in Greenlandic language, and the website includes additional written guides on talking to parents about difficult issues and dealing with insomnia.
Online help recommended by report
The new platform is just part of the massive effort undertaken in Greenland in recent years to fight mental illness and suffering. It will not solve all issues. But the fact that it is online and accessible to everyone across the country is important.
In fact, providing more online resources in Greenlandic was a major recommendation in a 2021 report by VIVE, the Danish Center for Social Science Research, on children and young people in Greenland’s access to mental health resources.
Online mental health resources are especially important if “educated personnel is spread out geographically”, the report stated.
And the Mindhelper platform arrived in Greenland with a good reputation. In Denmark, where a similar site was already tested, almost 60.000 people completed courses on the website. Out of those, 94 percent found the lessons ‘beneficial’..
The company behind Mindhelper promotes the website with four keywords: Accessibility, flexibility, anonymity and scalability. All of which could prove important in a country that struggles to provide timely help to all its citizens.
Ole Ellekrog, Polar Journal