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Coping with worry and uncertainty due to the threat of war

The Russian invasion of Ukraine beginning on the 24th of February 2022 is an event that can cause anxiety and fear in oneself and those around you, even if you are not experiencing an imminent threat of war here in Finland. The unfolding situation is a crisis that affects us all in one way or another. For example many people are wondering how to help those in need. However it can be important to take care of your own well-being first.

Use reliable information sources

A great deal of disinformation (deliberately misleading information) is being disseminated over the Internet. The current situation feeds the spread of disinformation and fuels fear, anxiety and uncertainty. People also differ in terms of how much more information helps them to cope with the crisis. When acquiring information, you should think about your own tolerance levels, try to be methodical, and stick to sources of information that have been shown to be reliable.

Reliable sources of information take a neutral approach, try to present things based on the best information available, and do not try to actively influence your opinions. Please also take note that following the news on this topic is challenging. The situation is changing rapidly and, even from reliable sources, some of the details may be inaccurate or incomplete. Also, try to limit your use of social media and at least consider how much weight you give to the stories and perspectives you encounter there.

Advise children and young people also to avoid social media. If they are following the media, discuss with them the headlines and content that they see, while listening to their feelings and while seeking to maintain a sense of security and hope. Among the different social media channels, TikTok has been found to contain both true and false video material about the crisis in Ukraine.

Make a plan for how you will follow the news

From the point of view of your ability to function in everyday life, it is important both to make a plan for how much you will follow the news and then stick to that plan. Even if you would like to actively follow the development of the situation, it is important to ensure that this does not interfere with daily work or family life, for example. You could, for example, schedule a daily time for yourself to go through the latest news. If this is difficult, it may help to think of how setting these times gives you freedom to focus on other things at other times.


The sense of solidarity and sympathy for the situation of Ukraine and its citizens is strong among Finnish people. There is an understandable desire to help and alleviate the distress of those who are suffering. The main way to help is through cash donations, but you can also help by other means.

Take part in discussions or protests

You can help by participating in public discussion, while avoiding and recognising the misleading information mentioned earlier. You can take part in discussions on social media or take part in demonstrations, for example. Remember to take a break from this discussion from time to time so that you do not become overwhelmed.

Support aid organisations with donations

You can financially contribute to humanitarian aid and help civilians affected by the war. Large international organisations are a safe option. With more unfamiliar organisations, always find out about them before donating. The following are examples of well-known international organisations:

Take care of your own well-being in these uncertain times

Recognising your own reactions to threatening and uncertain situations, as well as nurturing your own well-being will help you to maintain your functional capacity in everyday life and support others who are worried about the situation.

Talking to children about war and the threat of war

As a parent or guardian, you will encounter situations where you discuss war or the threat of war with a child or young person. With school-age children, it is okay to talk about the threat of war and crisis situations around the world. The younger the child is, however, the more they should be protected from news about the crisis.

Create space for conversation

Give the child space to calmly talk about their experiences, thoughts and feelings. They may not yet have the vocabulary for describing what they want to say. Maintain a calm and hopeful presence, even if the child reacts strongly, and give room for negative feelings. Such negative feelings may emerge, for example, in the child’s play.

Protect the child from your own worry

Even if you are personally affected by uncertainty and worry, it is important to talk to the child as calmly as possible and to convey a sense of security. It is common for a child's fears to provoke strong emotional reactions in an adult. If a child starts a conversation and you feel very anxious, you can either postpone the conversation or ask another adult who the child feels safe with to talk with them instead. It is of primary importance that the child is able to express their feelings in an accepting and safe environment.

Emphasise that the things on the news do not directly threaten the child

It may be difficult for a child to grasp the distances involved and who is affected by various crises and how, so it can be important to emphasise that news items show events that are far away.

People are working for peace

Point out that, while the issues in the news are worrying, many adults are working to resolve the situation. The spread of war, conflict and crisis to other regions is in no one's interest.