Help to ease coronavirus anxiety for children and young people

The team behind the popular Australian cognitive behavioural program BRAVE have released some top tips for children, adolescents, their parents and carers to help them beat stress and worries related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus has become so widespread that it has affected almost every country in the world, and is talked about almost every hour of the day.

Developed by researchers from University of Southern Queensland (USQ), The University of Queensland (UQ) and Griffith University and supported by UQ’s technology transfer company UniQuest, the BRAVE Self Help Program is easily accessible, free to Australians and can help tackle anxiety at this difficult time.

Leading researcher child psychologist USQ Professor Sonja March, who co-developed the program, said that we were living through unprecedented times.

“Children and teenagers are very observant – they see things changing, they hear the news and they talk with whoever they can about what’s happening,” Professor March said.

“They may worry about many different things related to the virus – whether they or their family members will get sick, whether schools will close, whether they will be asked to stay away from loved ones and friends, whether they will be safe, or whether the virus will ever end.

“We’ve put together a set of simple tips for you and your young person to manage the stress associated with COVID-19.”

The BRAVE program is an evidence-based, cognitive behavioural program which helps people understand how anxiety works and identifies strategies for overcoming fears and worries.

There are programs for children (7-11 years), teenagers (12-17 years) and parents of young children (3-6 years), children and teenagers.

“Our top tips are simple, practical and effective strategies that can be used to help de-escalate and manage anxieties about COVID-19,” Professor March said.

For example, it can be helpful for parents to consider the way in which children and teenagers consume information about COVID-19.

“Constant exposure to news broadcasting can cause additional stress– children can’t always recognise fine differences between facts and messages designed to convey exaggerated threat.

“Our strategies are designed to provide age-appropriate assistance to reduce the level of concern and anxiety in children and adolescents.”

The BRAVE blog contains our eight most effective strategies, as well as more information about accessing BRAVE, and links to other reliable sources of useful information.

UniQuest, UQ’s technology transfer company, has been committed to exploring scalable and sustainable delivery models for the BRAVE Program.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said that UniQuest continues to support the provision of the free self-help program, which has over 40,000 Australian users accessing the child, adolescent, and parent programs.

“BRAVE is a terrific example of how the combination of high-quality research with world-leading commercialisation can create change and impact to improve people’s lives – not just in Australia, but globally, in times of need,” Dr Moss said.

For more information, visit brave-online.com

Person standing in hall
Professor Sonja March, USQ School of Psychology and Counselling