Finnish parents felt that the Let’s Cope Together website, which is based on behavioural therapy methods, helped them and their child to manage worries related to the coronavirus during the first spring of the pandemic. The website, which has been created by the Research Centre for Child Psychiatry at the University of Turku, is opened today for anonymous use. As well as the English, Finnish and Swedish versions, the content will also soon be offered in Russian and Japanese.
Based on the results, 75 per cent of the approximately 200 people who filled out the survey said that they had learned methods to calm themselves and 83 per cent had learned methods to calm their child from the Let’s Cope Together website. 83 per cent said that they had learned ways to create daily routines that suited their family, and 53 per cent had learned how to plan the day with their child.
According to clinical director Andre Sourander, Professor of Child Psychiatry, the importance of support for parenthood is emphasised during extensive crises such as the coronavirus pandemic. At these times, the importance of correct information and concrete methods is also highlighted.
-It is important to offer parents support so that they can deal with their child’s negative emotions relating to the epidemic, help the child control their anxiety, and build functioning structures for everyday life with the child, Sourander says.
-We know that preventative programmes aimed at parents are key in order to reduce children’s anxiety. The parents’ ability to manage their own emotions and help the child in coping with a difficult situation have a strong connection to the psychological wellbeing of the child, Senior Researcher Terhi Luntamo says.
Sourander thinks that the increase in the number of coronavirus cases will make the risk of contracting the virus more realistic for many adults and even children.
“The prolonged pandemic is causing an increase in the number of children and parents suffering from psychological symptoms, and it also makes the situation in general harder for families,” he explains.
How the Let’s Cope Together website works
The Let’s Cope Together website contains information about anxiety, advice for dealing with difficult feelings, and simple exercises to ease the parent or child’s anxiety. The website guides users in practicing simple methods, such as relaxation through breathing and visualisation exercises, and it supports encouraging thinking and daily planning with the child.
Users can register on the website by creating their own login details. The website also has initial and follow-up surveys, which take approximately 2–3 minutes to fill out. The responses will be used for further development of online services that maintain mental health and prevent psychological issues.
The website has been designed by the Voimaperheet research group, which has a long history of designing and researching digital programmes which promote mental health. The study is part of the INVEST Research Flagship, which develops evidence-based methods for improving the wellbeing of families. The study is funded by the Academy of Finland and the Juho Vainio Foundation.