Helsinki is here to help
The coronavirus outbreak has created many challenges for Helsinki families. The City of Helsinki reminds its residents that they are not alone, and that many forms of support are available during this exceptional time. Below is a list of City of Helsinki services that are available, as well as additional services provided by Helsinki parishes and charity organizations.
City of Helsinki services
Families with children in daycare and comprehensive schools
Psychologists and counsellors at comprehensive schools and early childhood education facilities support children and their parents or guardians by addressing any questions or concerns they might have via phone, email or the Wilma online platform. The contact information for these professionals can be found on the individual websites of Helsinki daycare centres or schools. Meetings can be arranged remotely or as private face-to-face sessions.
Student support services are also available online via the jelppii.fi chat service, open weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
Helsinki’s Youth Services have adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic by moving many of their activities online and by extending their neighbourhood patrol outreach. Youth work professionals offer extended online consultation via the Sekaisin and Ärligt talat chat services, and local youth centres have moved activities and support services to their Instagram, Whatsapp, SnapChat, and Discord accounts and other social media channels. Dance classes have been made available on the TikTok app, for example. Information on each of Helsinki’s neighbourhood youth centres can be found at the munstadi website.
Students of upper secondary and vocational schools
Older students can also turn to their school psychologists and counsellors with questions or concerns. Phone numbers and email addresses for student support personnel can be found on the individual websites of Helsinki’s upper secondary schools or vocational schools. If the psychologist or counsellor at the student’s school is not available, personnel from other schools can also help. Private face-to-face sessions can be arranged on the school premises or at another suitable location, or they can take place remotely.
Student health care services
Student health services have continued operations since the coronavirus outbreak and remain available at every municipal learning institution. School nurses request that families contact them primarily on the phone or via eServices, but requests can also be sent on the Wilma platform or with an email. Student health care services can help with covid-19 infection diagnoses, but they also provide help with mental health issues, contraception or morning-after pills. These services also extend to young people in Helsinki who may be outside of academic or working life. Helsinki’s centralised student health care service location is found on the fourth floor of Mechelininkatu 46 A. Book an appointment by calling tel. 050 3105564, or contact the service at tel. 050 310 5547 regarding infectious disease tracing and vaccinations.
Helsinki’s Family Support service is always available, crisis or not, to guide families to the support and assistance they need. After customers make their first contact, service professionals perform a needs assessment and then guide customers to the service channel that can provide the best assistance. If the customers agree, this can also extend beyond municipal services to those provided by Helsinki parishes or NGOs.
Customers can contact the service by ringing tel. 09 310 15454 from 9 am to 12 pm on weekdays. Service in the Swedish language is available at the same number on Mondays from 9 am to 12 pm. The number has a callback service.
It is also possible to access the service 24/7 online, by clicking on the Need Help? icon in the lower right corner of the City of Helsinki’s Family support website. Municipal professionals will respond to submissions entered there within three working days.
Family centres provide services and support to Helsinki families and children of all ages. Residents are encouraged to contact family centres freely about possible problems associated with childrearing, the teenage years, parenting and daily coping. Family centres can be contacted through the contact information above. Home services for Helsinki families are also available on weekdays from 9 am to 1 pm, while changes to scheduled visits can be reported from 7 am to 1 pm.
Families in need of urgent help or child protection are asked to call their regional child welfare units on weekdays from 8:15 am to 4 pm. At other times, they should call the city’s round-the-clock Emergency Social Services number at tel. 0206 96006.
Chat services for young people, adults and parents of small children
Social and health professionals also serve Helsinki residents between the ages of 16 and 29 on chat services for young people. The chat service also extends to students that study in Helsinki but live elsewhere. The Young people’s chat is available on weekdays from 12 pm to 3 pm and can be accessed by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner of the Nuorten sote website.
Student support services are also available for students, parents and guardians on weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm by clicking on the pink icon of the Jelppi chat service.
The city also provides social guidance for adults on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm at tel. 09 310 44400 and via a chat service that can be accessed by clicking the icon in the lower right corner of the Sosiaalineuvonta website.
Each of these chat services mainly communicates in Finnish, but they can offer limited support and guidance in English, if necessary.
Support for families caring for people with disabilities
A phone service connecting callers with psychologists from Helsinki’s Disability Outpatient Clinic is available on weekdays from 9 am to 11 am at tel. 040 1953054. During the covid-19 pandemic, the phone service is concentrating on being of assistance to families of patients with special needs, who are encouraged to call the service to discuss their family situation with a professional and jointly come up with support alternatives to ease their situation.
Virtual daytime activities for people with disabilities
The City of Helsinki’s Disability Services offer virtual daytime activities. The activities are directed for customers of the work- and daytime acitivity service and are compensatory and complementary service during the coronavirus pandemic. Activities are carried out in groups, and offer participants the opportunity to share information, enjoy social contacts and join in inclusive activities for their home. A computer, tablet or smartphone are required to participate, along with an internet connection. Virtual daytime activity instructors will assist customers, their loved ones and the group home’s personnel with technical issues, as needed.
The virtual daytime activity groups, featuring discussion, dances and games, take place on weekdays 9.30-11 and 12.30-14.
Services from Helsinki parishes and NGOs
Services provided by Helsinki’s parishes are open to everyone and offer targeted support and services to families, children and young people. Diaconal workers at Helsinki’s parishes can direct people to helpful services and fun activities, while the parish’s family counselling services can be assistance with troubled relationships or family dynamics. Pastors are also available, if Helsinki residents want to talk with someone about the state of the world or are in need of spiritual or psychological support. Outreach services in English and Russian can be found on the Helsinki Parishes website.
The charity HelsinkiMissio works to eliminate unnecessary loneliness in Finnish society. In addition to a focus on seniors, HelsinkiMissio provides services and activities for families with small children and support for young people in Finnish and Swedish.
Church Resources Agency
Among its many charitable services, Finland’s Church Resources Agency (Kirkkopalvelut) offers food aid. Nine different distribution points associated with the programme are currently active in Helsinki.
Mannerheim League for Child Welfare
The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL) provides many helpful services for families in Finland. A popular counselling service for parents lets mums and dads call in free-of-charge to talk to trained service providers about anything associated with raising a child or parenting. Ring tel. 0800 92277 on Mondays, Tuesday and Fridays from 10 am to 1 pm and Thursday from 5 pm to 8 pm. Other options include an online chat service or the submission of an online letter. The service is confidential, meaning that the conversations are not recorded and callers need not confirm their identity.
A similar MLL counselling service is available for children and young people at tel. 116 111. It is open on weekdays from 2 pm to 8 pm and on weekends from 5 pm to 8 pm. Like with the service for adults, the calls are free-of-charge and callers do not need to identify themselves. The associated chat service allows children and youth to speak confidentially and anonymously about anything at all. The chat service is open Sundays to Wednesdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. It is also possible to book a chat session in advance.
The Nuortennetti chat service for young people allows tweens and teens to talk with each other about life’s ups and downs. The chat is a safe forum for discussions because every question and response is checked before it is posted. See this MLL brochure for more information in English on the MLL charity.
Family Federation of Finland
The Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) provides many kinds of support and services for families. The federation’s online Hyvä Kysymys service features chats, articles, tests, courses, videos, podcasts and peer support platforms in Finnish and Swedish.
Corona support from organizations to support children, young people, families and young adults
The City of Helsinki’s family and social services has also teamed up with representatives of the education and training industry and various charity organizations to support children, family, youngsters and young adults together during the pandemic. This cross-organisational support network seeks to reach out to children, young people and parents for whom the coronavirus has presented everyday challenges and may need support or assistance.
Support options available range from telephone counseling for parents to work with a child or young person, professionals who will provide a friendly ear, or volunteers who can offer companionship on a walk or help with daily routines. The organizations also offer many kinds of online peer groups, chats and outreach on social media for young people. Support can be one-off and short-term, but a longer-term support relationship is also possible.
Call the service's support line at tel. 050 438 4548 on weekdays 10-14 to learn more.