To aid children of divorce, a lecturer in the psychology department at Binghamton University has constructed a digital mental health program.

As a child of divorce himself, Professor Jesse Boring knows firsthand what coping with the experience is like. This is part of the reason he created Children of Divorce — Coping with Divorce (CoD-CoD), an asynchronous online program designed to strengthen post-divorce coping and reduce mental health problems in young people. Comprised of five self-paced modules addressing active coping, avoidant coping, coping efficacy and cognitive errors in divorce appraisals, the program contains videos of Boring teaching the participants different coping strategies and introducing new topics. There are games at the end of each module that act as a reward for completion, allowing participants to practice the coping skills they have learned.

Boring made CoD-CoD between 2008-2011 after becoming frustrated with the lack of evidence-based mental health programs. The program adopts a digital format in order to give children in need wider access, compared to a purely in-person format.

“The big incentive is that because it is self-guided it can be used anytime by anyone with an internet connection,” Boring wrote.

The participant can move through the modules at their own pace as frequently as they feel comfortable. This also allows them to feel more at ease while watching the program and fully process the information displayed. The modules also include comedic elements in order to maintain participants’ attention throughout.

Blueprints Program for Healthy Youth Development recently gave Boring’s project a promising certification. He emphasized that the certification helps highlight his program’s legitimacy, as Blueprints Program is one of the most well-respected registries for evidence-based programs.

“The content for CoD-CoD was based on the available evidence-based programs for children from disrupted families — The Children of Divorce Intervention Project, The Children’s Support Group and the Family Bereavement Program,” Boring wrote.

CoD-CoD has proven to be successful. According to a promotional video, a random clinical trial of 147 child participants aged 11-16 showed the program improved “coping efficacy” and “reduced mental health problems.” Boring wrote that he hopes to receive a University grant in the fall to work on a new digital program for children whose parents have passed away, in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, along with Irwin Sandler from the Arizona State University REACH Institute who was one of the researchers that developed the Family Bereavement Program and Julie Kaplow of Tulane University. With the grant, Boring would be able to work alongside undergraduate and graduate students to mentor them in learning how to do research.

Boring spent six years teaching as a professor at SUNY Broome Community College, where he worked on evidence-based research studying how online methods can provide support to military families adapting to parenthood. Ultimately, more research opportunities to design programs like CoD-CoD drew him to his current position at the four-year University.

“I think that it will become more and more common for people to look to digital mental health services to support their well-being,” Boring wrote. “My belief and hope is digital mental health will become a way to make state-of-the-art evidence-based mental health care available to everyone who needs it.”