Loneliness is an issue at every school. Which is why we created the School to Belong programme and certificate. Commitment to the programme shows that your school hasn’t swept the problem under the rug, but actively works to reduce loneliness – so that no one feels left out. The time to act is now.


Loneliness among children and young people is a serious and growing problem. One in four girls and one in ten boys in their early teens often feels lonely. Loneliness is not a state of mind you choose nor enjoy, unlike the times when you choose to be alone. Long-term loneliness can weaken the mental and physical health of young people, negatively impact their learning ability, and increase the risk of violent behaviour. We cannot afford to leave a single child or youth unsupported.

The School to Belong Programme helps a school community identify and alleviate the loneliness experienced by some young people and offers tools to counteract it. The programme makes the reduction of loneliness a common endeavour for the whole school. It is something the school community works for together.

The programme uses methods that international studies have shown to be most effective: impactful early intervention, skill training, changing the atmosphere of attitudes, and by realigning distorted thought patterns that contribute to loneliness.

For more information, please contact:

Silva Saulio
School to Belong programme manager 09 2312 0317, 043 201 3192

The School to Belong Loneliness Survey

The School to Belong Loneliness Survey charted the loneliness experienced by students at 36 schools and educational institutions taking part in the School to Belong programme. Since the Covid pandemic, the levels of loneliness experienced by young people have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels. Young people feel more lonely than ever before. One in four young people say they don’t have a single close friend or group that they feel they belong to.


Kuva School to Belongin lähettiläästä, Tim Sparvista

It is natural to feel somewhat lost and lonely in this rapidly changing world. If your loneliness is a problem, getting help is easy. I am happy to be part of this programme and be able to share my own experiences of loneliness.

Tim Sparv

It is important to treat loneliness as something that concerns the whole school. Everybody can experience loneliness. I think it’s great when people show each other their humanity, incompleteness and frailty.


Nuori poika lähikuvassa Nuori poika lähikuvassa

Young, you’re not alone

Are you having a tough time in life? Do you have problems with your relationships? Do you feel lonely? Do you want to learn how to treat yourself with compassion?

If you need someone to talk to, our volunteers and professionals are here for you. Find out more about our Youth Services!


Schools committed to the programme are validated with the School to Belong certificate. This confirms that all staff members and students recognise that loneliness is a problem which they are working to alleviate – so no one need feel alone. In such a school, it is good to be a young person.

The programme is realised in cooperation with the Finnish National Agency for Education, University of Turku’s Department of Teacher Education, the Regional State Administrative Agency  and the professor and loneliness researcher Niina Junttila.

The programme is intended as a long-term model for all schools and education institutions in Finland. It is realised nationally through online training and e-materials. At present, the programme, implemented in Finnish and Swedish, is directed at middle schools and secondary education institutions. For schools, participation is free of charge.

How your school can join the programme:

  1. Enrolment is possible from January through March.
  2. The school takes a Loneliness Survey.
  3. Survey results are made public, and a loneliness strategy is planned for the school.
  4. The school is offered appropriate tools to implement the loneliness strategy.
  5. Schools committed to the programme are certified annually.

In the 2022–23 school year, the School to Belong programme was participated in by:

Alppilan lukio, Brändö gymnasium, Business College Helsinki, Etu-Töölön lukio, Grundskolan Norsen, Gymnasiet Lärkan, Helsingin aikuislukio, Helsingin kielilukio, Helsingin kuvataidelukio, Helsingin luonnontiedelukio, Helsingin medialukio, Kallion lukio, Kerttulin lukio, Lagstads skola, Luostarivuoren Lyseon lukio, Mattlidens gymnasium, Mäkelänrinteen lukio, Naantalin lukio, Paimion lukio, Puolalanmäen lukio, Sibelius-lukio, Stadin ammatti- ja aikuisopisto (14 toimipistettä), Tapiolan lukio, Turun klassillinen lukio, Turun normaalikoulu, Turun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun lukio, Tölö gymnasium, Valtion koulukodit, Vuosaaren lukio, Winellska skolan ja Yrkesinstitutet Prakticum.

Online materials for School to Belong schools

Has your school enrolled in the School to Belong programme? Log into our password-protected online service, which will give your school access to various materials.

Tip us off about a school

Would you like to give HelsinkiMissio a tip-off about a school you wish would join our School to Belong programme to reduce loneliness in the school? Leave us contact details for the school and we’ll get in touch with them. Schools can enrol in January for the forthcoming school year.

Take part in Operation A Day’s Work Finland

One way to reduce loneliness at a societal level is to get involved in Operation A Day´s Work Finland. Offer your students a well-liked and meaningful day and take part!

Give a Donation to Help Young People

If the company you work for would like to support the School to Belong programme, please contact Silva Saulio (