Rovaniemi is training all teachers to support the mental health of students – “an exceptional move even by Finnish standards”3/28/2023 10:52 AM
“Teaching life management skills leads to increased well-being and brings the city true
savings”, says Saija Viljakainen, a specialist from the MIELI Mental Health Finland association.
The City of Rovaniemi is doing groundbreaking work by providing training for all primary and secondary school teachers and principals, as well as upper secondary school teachers, on children’s and young people’s mental health skills. A total of almost 850 people will be trained. The training sessions will be organised by MIELI Mental Health Finland during the spring.
According to Saija Viljakainen, a specialist from MIELI Mental Health Finland, even by Finnish standards, the move to train all teachers in Rovaniemi is nothing short of exceptional. It is normally individual schools that approach MIELI Mental Health Finland with training requests.
“Rovaniemi has made quite an amazing policy decision. When all teachers are trained at once, the working culture will advance and all age groups will receive the same tools for promoting their mental well-being.”
The training covers what mental health is and how the promotion of mental health can be learnt and taught. Mental health-promoting skills are divided into ten areas: emotional and interaction skills, coping skills, calming techniques, self-esteem strengthening, and so on. With the training, teachers will receive a manual with exercises related to these skills.
According to Viljakainen, Rovaniemi’s decision to train all its teachers shows that the city understands the impacts of well-being on learning: without well-being, a child cannot learn.
In addition, Viljakainen believes that the decision shows that Rovaniemi has a true willingness to support the well-being of teachers, children and young people: when a teacher teaches these skills to the children, they learn them as well. Furthermore, children will take these newly learnt skills back to their families.
Preventive support for the well-being of children and young people is also much cheaper than, for example, trying to get school dropouts back into society at a later date.
“Rovaniemi is looking to the future. Teaching life management skills leads to increased well-being and brings the city true savings”, summarises Saija Viljakainen.
Since 2018, Rovaniemi’s primary schools have been using a well-being annual calendar that helps pupils practice various emotional, interaction, and life management skills during lessons. The tool developed in Rovaniemi has since been adopted by several schools in Finland. The MIELI Mental Health Finland training programs will deepen the staff’s knowledge of mental health-related matters and promote a strength-based operating culture at school.