Finnish NGO´s, altogether 23 organisations today, have established a common internet service, Apua.info (apua = help), for early intervention and crisis support. Apua.info is targeted to general public, focused on reaching people that may mostly benefit from the co-operative working model. Specificly produced versatile, reliable help and information are now offered in themes of mental health, family, children, parenthood, relationships, substances and addictions, and domestic violence. Over 400 articles, tools for estimating one´s own situation, conversations of specific themes and personal councelling have realistic but at the same time positive approach.
In Apua.info people are not obligated to diagnose themselves before they can find suitable professional service to turn to. A vague, bad feeling is enough to find support. Apua.info combines services that are related to each other, to one easy to reach source. Great benefits, when sensitive issues are dealt with are anonymity, flexibility of social distance, interactivity, peer group support and exploring ones one life experience before the backround of social and cultural views in society, that may be either strengthening ones own abilities to cope with a crisis situation but may also be questioned as a unnecessary cause for stigma in mentioned matters.
Apua.info is organised by 23 mental health, addiction work, children´s welfare and public health organisations. For its members, Apua.info offers a continuum of mutual learning, beside opportunities for developing, co-ordinating, co-operating and sharing tasks in a sensible way. Continuous, open dialog as a network is an advantage for services NGO´ s can offer.
Revised version of Apua.info has been published in autumn 2006 following the lines defined in Finnish governmental information society programme and observing other national processes in the area of psycho-social wellbeing. Apua.info also emphasizes sharing experiences on European level. The narrative research has given a valuable impact for the developing process of meeting the client in e-service when considering the tacit knowledge in how to attain help when needed among clients themselves. In 2005-2008 Apua.info is funded by Finland’s Slot Machine Association.
Apua.info has lately reached about 9 000 different users monthly. A users survey was carried out to get a picture of users profiles in service mainly used anonymously. With 468 answers it seems that users value most the reliability of the information as well as the possibility to find professionals in particular issues. In results of the survey 67 % of the users experienced that they may find support in material published in internet. 11 % had a current crisis in their lives and 24 % had a difficult phasic in their lives at the moment of survey. 32 % of the users said that they use reliable application in their work – therefore Apua.info seems to be indirectly used for supporting clients in social work. Most wanted for the future development were sharing experiences through authentic narratives – about how people have coped with crisis in their lives, and widening the ways of peer group interaction, which seems to be very important note in keeping the threshold low for easy access psychosocial wellbeing services.