Versatility is by far the most important Folkhälsan strength, as Georg Henrik Wrede told the press when it emerged in March that he had been selected as the new Managing Director of the Folkhälsan Foundation. In a week's time, on 2 May he will be taking over as Deputy Managing Director before taking the helm completely as of 1 August 2018. We met briefly to reflect on the work ahead of him.
Versatility is this organisation in a nutshell, reckons Georg Henrik Wrede.
Folkhälsan, with its health promoting activities, care, training and research, has built up reputational capital over the years that is not to be sniffed at.
Thousands of parents, relatives, young people, volunteers and a large workforce of 1500 are proud of their organisation – as indicated by all surveys. This reputational capital goes so much deeper than a medical centre can build up, according to Georg Henrik Wrede, alluding to the social and healthcare reform.
Change does not worry him. We are surrounded by changes all the time, and change is an inevitable, constant state. He prefers to talk about development.
We have to be aware of the factors that drive development in society and hence within Folkhälsan as well.
When talking about freedom of choice, one of the key concepts in the social and healthcare reform, Georg Henrik Wrede states that he maintains a positive attitude towards freedom of choice, but that freedom of choice always comes with responsibilities. True freedom of choice is based on the fact that the person choosing has sufficient knowledge and resources to make a good decision.
But in fact, we rarely have all the answers at hand when we make choices: we have to rely on the people who offer the services as well.
Every day, we consumers make choices between products that we may not understand all that much; data and phone packages or insurance cover, for instance. We are forced to rely on the people who offer us those products, and this is particularly vital as regards social and healthcare services.
When it comes to our health, we also have to consider trust and honesty in relation to our own preferences. What is more important: getting health service in your mother tongue, or health service closest to home?
Georg Henrik Wrede has plenty to get his teeth into when he takes over. He is pleased about the opportunity to shadow until August the highly respected current Managing Director Stefan Mutanen.
He is very much looking forward to his new job at one of the most fascinating places to work in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland.
He is already familiar with the organisation – he has worked for Folkhälsan as a regional director for Turku, as head of day care and as head of health promotion.
After working for Folkhälsan, he became a director at the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, and his most recent position was as the Director of the Youth Division at the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Youth issues have been close to Georg Henrik Wrede's heart for a long time.
He began to show an interest in such issues while he was still at school – he attended a good school where he was taken seriously as a student.
We were taken seriously and taught us to take responsibility both in school and later on in student politics.
Getting involved, listening to other people's opinions and giving people the opportunity to take part in the decision-making process are all important aspects, according to Georg Henrik.
And although the Nordic communities are good at maintaining balance between security, equality and opportunities for different people, he nevertheless thinks that Finland has too many young people who are on the verge to long-term unemployment, hopelessness and mental problems.
Wrede considers the latter to be very alarming, and he is of the opinion that Folkhälsan would have an interesting part to play when working with young people with mental issues.
Providing support, giving them hope.
Alongside everything else that has to be done, of course.
Text: Camilla Westerlund
Photo: Mikko Käkelä/Folkhälsan