Student welfare services in vocational education

Student welfare services support your learning and well-being in many ways. Student welfare staff cooperate with the school staff and various networks. Student welfare is primarily preventive work.
Studying in the upper secondary level is communal. A large network of professionals is there to support students. Photo: Maija Astikainen

Communal student welfare is the task of all those who work and study at schools. A multi-disciplinary team of professionals is there to support the student.

Individual student welfare services are provided by psychologists, school social workers, public health nurses, doctors and nurses specialised in mental health and substance abuse work. 

Schools also have many other professionals to support the students. The purpose of the services is to enable good learning for every learner.

Students can seek out most of these services themselves, but the student welfare staff are also always ready to guide and advise students in determining the right place to find support.

Learn more about the student’s service paths in the Thinglink environment(Link leads to external service) or in the sections below.

Student welfare service paths.  The content of the picture is explained in the sections below.  Photo: Frankly Partners Oy
Student welfare service paths. The content of the picture is explained in the sections below. Photo: Frankly Partners Oy

A multi-disciplinary team of professionals helps you if you need support in learning, face challenges in life or have concerns regarding your health. Student welfare services can also help you with anxiety or if you are feeling blue. Help is available both for urgent situations and on a planned basis - depending on the your needs.

Support from your school

Communal student welfare supports the entire school community and is the primary form of student welfare. Communal student welfare services are provided by everyone involved in the school: teachers, students, guidance counsellors and student welfare staff, as well as parents and guardians. Youth workers and sports coaches operating in many schools are also an important part of communal student welfare. 

Communal student welfare promotes the learning and wellbeing of the students, as well as good interaction and inclusion in the community. Communal work develops and promotes the health, accessibility and safety of the school environment and the wellbeing of the entire community. It also includes ensuring the ability of the school to operate during difficulties and crisis situations. Communal activities can be directed at all members of the community or targeted at specific groups, such as students at a certain stage of their studies. Students’ everyday life also includes loved ones who are not members of the school community. 

Students’ circles of friends and family outside the school is often a significant contributor to their wellbeing and a resource supporting their ability to study. 

The school social worker strives to increase students’ resources and seek positive solutions by structuring their situations, paying attention to their everyday life, functional capacity and interaction relationships. 

The school social worker examines the student’s life situation, looking at the student’s school attendance, studies, learning environment, financial and housing situation, wellbeing and ability to cope, family and home situation, hobbies and recreational activities. In addition, school social workers’ tasks include consultation, the promotion of wellbeing in the school community and cooperation with teaching staff, students’ families and various stakeholders.

Students can speak with the school social worker about

  • questions relating to making ends meet,
  • experiences of bullying,
  • changes in life,
  • changes or conflicts in the family, such as parental divorce, quarrels or substance abuse at home,
  • absenteeism or other problems with school attendance,
  • friendships and romantic relationships, and
  • consideration of sexual or gender identity.

Students have the right to get a personal appointment with either a psychologist or a school social worker within seven school days when they need it and, in urgent matters, on the same or following school day.

You can find the contact information on your school’s website. 

General upper secondary schools, see Contact or Yhteystiedot (page in Finnish)

Vocational College Stadin AO psychologists and student cousellors(Link leads to external service) (page in Finnish)

The task of the school psychologist is to promote the student’s wellbeing and mental health, support studies and prevent problems. The work may include psychological assessment or support in problems related to emotional development, social interaction or studying, as well as consultation, the promotion of wellbeing in the school community and collaboration with teaching staff, families and various stakeholders.

Students can speak with the psychologist about 

  • emotional problems, such as stress, nerves, fears, depression, anxiety and fatigue
  • difficulties with studying
  • reflections on identity
  • challenges in interpersonal relationships
  • life situation 
  • changes and crises 
  • suicidal thoughts

Students have the right to get a personal appointment with either a psychologist or a school social worker within seven school days when they need it and, in urgent matters, on the same or following school day. 

You can find the contact information on your school’s website. 

General upper secondary schools, see Contact or Yhteystiedot (page in Finnish)

Vocational College Stadin AO psychologists and student cousellors(Link leads to external service) (page in Finnish)

The duties of a school nurse include monitoring the growth and development of students and monitoring and promoting their study ability, as well as health counselling, contraception and sexual counselling, the promotion of good physical and mental health and the prevention of substance abuse.

School nurses conduct health examinations where they assess the student’s state of health in terms of coping with studies, provide information on the services provided by public healthcare and student welfare and, together with the student, look at the student’s state of health, life situation, lifestyle, social networks and how studies are going as part of the student’s overall wellbeing.

As a rule, students receive medical care services at their local health station

If necessary, you can also see the school nurse without an appointment. Find the contact information on your school’s website. See list of schools and find a school website.

General upper secondary schools, see Contact or Yhteystiedot (page in Finnish)

Vocational College Stadin AO School nurse(Link leads to external service)(page in Finnish)

School physicians work closely with school nurses. In terms of medical care services, mental health problems and problems affecting the ability to study are prioritised. If necessary, the student is referred to a health station.

The preliminary call-up health examinations of persons liable for military service are carried out in schools. Exceptions to the practice are agreed on a case-by-case basis with the parent or guardian, the treating physician, student welfare and a representative of the school.

Students who need a special diet must fill in the appropriate form and deliver it to the school’s kitchen/cafeteria.

Appointments for a physician require a referral from the school nurse. Find the contact information on your school’s website. 

General upper secondary schools, see Contact or Yhteystiedot (page in Finnish)

Vocational College Stadin AO contact information(Link leads to external service) (page in Finnish)

In student welfare, nurses specialised in mental health and substance abuse work act as experts in psychiatric nursing in primary health care, helping with mental health, substance abuse and addiction problems. The work supports students’ mental health, functional capacity, study ability and life management.

Mental health and substance abuse nurses assess students’ need for treatment, provide treatment and guide them to further treatment, if necessary. The work focuses on combating social exclusion and on its early identification and support, prevention and timely treatment.

Appointments with the mental health and substance abuse nurse usually require a referral from the school nurse. Find the contact information on your school’s website.

General upper secondary schools, see Contact or Yhteystiedot (page in Finnish)

Vocational College Stadin AO contact information(Link leads to external service) (page in Finnish)

The task of the multi-disciplinary expert team is to support students and their preconditions for learning.

The team is assembled on a case-by-case basis to support a student when experts in different fields are needed for the early investigation and management of a situation that gives rise to concern. The team is also assembled if cooperation is needed between teaching staff and student welfare services staff.

The multi-disciplinary expert team is assembled with the consent of the student and parents or guardians.

The Aula learner portal serves as a starting page for students’ computers. The portal contains information on, for example, your local student welfare services.

Aula also provides links to the most important services used by the school on a daily basis, such as learning environments. In addition, the portal has quick access to links to the homepage of your school, the city’s library services, the lunch menu and the city’s services for children and young people.

Aula has been developed to support learning and the wellbeing of students.

Support networks outside school

The Youth Station helps young people aged 13–23 who are struggling with moderate mental health problems or severe substance abuse issues. The Youth Station employs nurses, social instructors, social workers, social therapists, family therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists and a physician. The treatment methods include different kinds of individual and group meetings, peer support and medication. The Youth Station works closely with families.

You can get a service referral to the Youth Station from your school’s student welfare staff, the local health station or a Mieppi service unit. If you are struggling with substance abuse issues, you can come to the Youth Station without an appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12.00–13.00. 

Read more about Youth Station.

Health stations provide primary healthcare services for Helsinki residents. They are the primary places of treatment of Helsinki residents and, if necessary, they can refer patients for further examinations and treatments.

Each patient is cared for by a team consisting of a physician and a nurse. Physiotherapists and nurses specialising in mental health and substance abuse work also provide services at health stations. Students are referred to a mental health and substance abuse nurse after a nurse or physician has assessed their need for treatment.

FInd your nearest health station in Helsinki.

The low-threshold Mental Health Service Unit Mieppi offers discussion support to promote mental wellbeing. Mieppi serves young people over the age of 13 and adults. There are Mieppi service units in Haaga, Kalasatama and Myllypuro. You can visit any Mieppi unit regardless of where you live. 

Mieppi employs mental health professionals you can talk to either in person or remotely, whichever you prefer. You can contact Mieppi to discuss your life situation or mental health concerns. Mieppi can offer 1–5 discussion sessions or advice and service guidance according to your need. 

You can also contact Mieppi if you are worried about a loved one. Mieppi services are free of charge for you but failing to cancel an appointment you do not show up for is subject to a fine. If you need help quickly, please contact the emergency clinic.

Please note that Mieppi does not provide medical services, so the staff cannot write prescriptions, referrals or sick leave certificates. If you already have a mental health treatment contact, you should contact your current treatment provider.

Find the addresses and contact information of Mieppi units here.  

Specialised medical services, such as examinations and treatment in various specialised areas, are mainly provided in hospitals and their outpatient clinics. Access to specialised medical care is through progressive patient care based on certain criteria and usually requires a referral from a health station or from student welfare.

Ohjaamo One-Stop Guidance Centres provide free assistance in a wide range of life issues, such as studying, employment, housing and wellbeing. They cannot directly grant, for example, housing or income support, but they can provide a lot of information and support for applying for them. 

The services and staff of Ohjaamo One-Stop Guidance Centres vary slightly from one locality to another. However, everyone under the age of 30 is welcome to seek help with any issue; Ohjaamo is always able to help and guide you forward. 

Find Ohjaamo contact information here. (Link leads to external service)

The services needed by families have been centralised in family centres. Family centres promote the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families by providing support for parenting and relationships while taking into account the diversity of families. 

The health and social services provided by family centres include

  • maternity and child health clinic services
  • family work
  • parenting advice and family counselling
  • contraception and other sexual health counselling
  • psychologist’s services
  • oral healthcare
  • physiotherapy and nutrition, speech and occupational therapy

At the moment, there are four family centres in Helsinki:

  • Itäkatu Family Centre
  • Kallio Family Centre
  • Kamppi Family Centre
  • Vuosaari Family Centre and Health and Well-being Centre

Find the contact information for the Family Centres here. 

You can contact child welfare services yourself if your family is experiencing stress or problems. You can always contact child welfare, also anonymously, if you are concerned about the wellbeing of your own child or any other child or young person living nearby, for example due to

  • difficulties in the care and parenting of children/young people
  • domestic violence
  • substance abuse that complicates family life
  • other family crises
  • a need for guidance and counselling

The purpose of child welfare is to protect the rights of the child and to support parents and other guardians in the educational task. As a rule, we strive for children and young people to be able to grow and develop in their own home.

A child welfare notification can be submitted by telephone, by post or via the Maisa customer portal. The notification will be processed within seven working days, after which an assessment of the need for child welfare will be carried out within three months if deemed necessary. You can find the contact information for the unit in your area here. In the evenings and at weekends, you can contact the social emergency number,tel. 0206 96006.(Link starts a phone call)

Find your regional child welfare unit and contact information.

Maisa customer portal - Login page(Link leads to external service)

Adult social work provides support for all kinds of life situations. The work is done with individual clients, families and communities. You can seek help from the adult social work team in problems related to, for example, work, housing, family life, managing financial matters and various crisis situations in life.

The social workers and social instructors of adult social work support your ability to cope through joint goal-oriented work, advice and guidance and by granting discretionary and preventive income support. The adult social work team examines new clients’ life situation and considers their need for services and support on that basis.

You can become a client by contacting the adult social work team in your area. There are separate teams for clients under the age of 30 and for clients over the age of 30.

Find the contact information for your local service point here. 

There is a huge amount of information, tools and peer support services available online to support students’ wellbeing. Here are a few examples of resources you can explore. 

Mielenterveystalo (Mental Hub)(Link leads to external service) and Nuorten mielenterveystalo(Link leads to external service) (Youth Mental Hub) offer reliable public healthcare resources for mental wellbeing. The website contains information on various themes and several self-help programmes.  

AddictionLink(Link leads to external service) provides information and support related to substance abuse and addiction. In addition to a comprehensive database, AddictionLink offers questionnaires, self-help content, peer support and an advisory service. The service is intended for substance abusers, gaming addicts, their families and friends and anyone interested in information on addiction.

Nuortennetti (Youth Net)(Link leads to external service) is a website for young people that has also been partially designed by young people. The website contains information about topics such as sexuality and dating, media use, mental health, bullying and substance abuse. Nuortennetti provides support, activities, information and discussions. 

Netari(Link leads to external service) is the largest online youth centre in Finland with a very comprehensive chat calendar listing all available support and peer support chats where you can meet new people and talk about things weighing on your mind. 

For example, MIELI Mental Health Finland(Link leads to external service)’s Sekasin-chat(Link leads to external service) is a nationwide discussion service for 12–29-year-olds that supports mental wellbeing and coping with mental health problems. The service is free, anonymous and confidential with extensive opening hours. You can talk to healthcare and social welfare professionals, on the other hand, in the 

Youth chat(Link leads to external service) Mon–Fri 12.00–15.00. Young people can ask questions about things weighing on their mind, such as personal health, mental health issues, substance abuse or bullying, as well as matters related to work, studies or relationships. In addition, young people can choose to just start a conversation without a specific topic.

Victim Support Finland (Riku)(Link leads to external service) offers support and practical advice to crime victims, their loved ones and witnesses in criminal cases. You can contact RIKU by phone, online or face to face. 

You can contact the police if you want to report a crime, submit a tip-off on a crime or get information. 

You can call the emergency number 112 if you need urgent assistance or if life, property or the environment are at risk. The Police website(Link leads to external service)also contains a lot of useful advice on safe behaviour online and on what to do if you encounter bullying or harassment online. 

Anchor work(Link leads to external service) is multi-professional cooperation that supports the wellbeing of children and young people and prevents crime. It also aims to prevent radicalisation to violent extremism. The work is carried out in teams consisting of experts from the police and health, social and youth services.  Anchor work can be helpful in situations where a young person starts committing crimes or using drugs, for example. The activities can also help a young person in a difficult life situation who has experienced, for example, intimate partner violence or domestic violence. You can reach Helsinki Anchor work ontel. 050 440 2113,(Link starts a phone call) 8.00–16.00.

Home support for students

You at home know them best and can also support them through the transition from vocational education and training to their future.

How to support learner

Video theme is Student Welfare as a Basis for Learning and Support Network. There is option to choose English subtitles.