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Home News Military children use website to cope with stress, connect with each other

Military children use website to cope with stress, connect with each other

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Children deal with all types of growing pains and learning experiences that leave lasting impressions, and military children often have additional stressors. The Military Kids Connect (MKC) website and online communities, created by the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), offer interactive resources that help combat mental health issues. The site helps military young people connect with one another, learn coping skills and share their unique experiences. 

“The mission of the website is to improve the quality of life of military children as they face the psychological challenges of living in the military life and culture,” said Dr. Kelly Blasko, a lead psychologist at T2. “It was designed so [children] can learn about feeling stressed and anxious, and it provides them with some tools to alleviate some of this stress.” 





The site, aimed at children ages 6 to 17 and separated into three age-appropriate modules – kids (age 6 to 8), tweens (age 9 to 12) and teens (age 13 to 17) – was designed to fill a gap in mental health resources available solely for children who grow up in military families. Many of these children have parents who are deployed or transitioning back from deployment, which can increase confusion, depression and anxiety. Other families move regularly from base to base, with children finding it difficult to adjust and get comfortable. These scenarios are addressed by allowing children to connect with others in similar circumstances and to access resources so they can learn to better handle these situations. 

The MKC online communities for tweens and teens provide resources, such as a message board, stress-management tools and self-expression activities, which youth can use to deal with emotional situations. For example, many of these children are fearful when separated from their parents for extended periods, and they can learn how others have coped by using the message boards to discuss their feelings and get feedback. Personal story videos from their peers, who share their experiences with deployment, health and other regularly discussed topics, can help create a dialogue about coping strategies. These dialogues can assist in creating a support system to alleviate some of the worries. 

“The message boards were intended to start conversations about what their struggles were, and that is one way to get peer support,” said Blasko. “The connection there is that kids become role models for other kids, and it often helps a child to hear what their peers are saying. It makes it feel normal.” 

Frequently visited areas of the site include the “What Would You Do?” section in the tweens and teens modules, where young people discuss their decision-making processes handling dilemmas that are common to military youth. Also popular is the “Tough Topics” area, which features animated graphic novels and feedback on the difficult situations military families endure, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. 

Parents, caregivers and educators are encouraged to use the sections designed for them to find out how to help their children cope and to learn what issues their children are talking about. Adults can use the tools to develop strategies to help improve the well-being of their children learn how to talk with them about difficult topics. 

“The website is put in the context of military life,” Blasko said. “When you’re on the website, you know you’re on a military site, so kids and parents can relate to that. There are uniforms and military language is used, and that’s one thing that makes Military Kids Connect unique.”


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