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Prof. Kristīne Mārtinsone, Head of the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Department of Health Psychology and Paedagogy, describes how the pandemic has challenged the field of psychology and contributed to a rapid, increased awareness in society. People are increasingly interested in psychology and are more frequently willing to seek help. 


During a time when the impact that COVID-19 has on behaviour, work and leisure activities is being studied from different points of view, increased attention is also being paid to mental health. During Psychology Days on 22-23 October, it will be possible to get acquainted with the first results of various studies that confirm the growing importance of psychology. Will the annual Psychology Days be any different than usual? We invited Prof. sMārtinsone for a conversation to ask her this and other questions. 

What did the pandemic highlight to psychologists?

It showed and proved the importance of better knowledge about psychology as well as the need for support. 

Awareness of the importance of psychology is gaining momentum as psychological health is facing more and more challenges due to the current situation in Latvia and worldwide. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, the RSU Department of Health Psychology and Paedagogy has actively been fighting against the negative effects of the pandemic. Together with our colleagues and professional associations we organise various educational webinars on working remotely.

Will this year’s annual Psychology Days be different than previous years?

Yes, definitely. All Psychology Day events will be held online and the content will change as well. There will be some theoretical and practical events, which had not been implemented before - an event like this has never been held in Latvia before! I would like to highlight two upcoming events that demonstrate that it is possible to find interdisciplinary solutions for the challenges we face today. These solutions will round-up the things we have already done, mark out the path we are taking and the contributions that we want to make in the future.

When will we be able to hear about the first results of studies looking into the psychological impact of the pandemic?

During the interdisciplinary scientific conference, which is the main event of Psychology Days. Cooperation is the key word of this conference - cooperation between colleagues involved in national research programmes (NRP), between lecturers and students, experts and professionals, and between all those who are providing support and developing guidelines. 

This will be a unique opportunity for researchers working on various NRP projects to meet and discuss the first findings of various psychoemotional and social aspects.

During these tough times, when projects are being implemented on a very intensive timeline, researchers have not had much time to come together and discuss how they are maybe dealing with some of the same problems from various angles. 

We are all interested in the initial findings of the studies. I understand that you are not going to reveal them before the conference, but could you give us some insight at least?

I can’t reveal anything yet, but I can speak about one conclusion of our studies. 

In order to maintain psychological well-being during the pandemic and to make it easier to work remotely, it is very important to adhere to a strict daily schedule.

You should plan your day from the morning until the evening, setting up different times to work, rest, eat, and for sports or leisure activities. It shouldn’t be chaotic! Everything should be done according to a plan. Quality of sleep is also very important. During the conference, we will present other conclusions on how to balance work and private life, healthy behaviours and how to reduce anxiety. The results of the study will be useful for creating guidelines and there are Ministry representatives planning to attend the conference. 

Do you think the results are going to be used effectively?

Definitely! Clear recommendations must be developed according to the research project’s requirements. Decision-makers will receive the recommendations at the final phase of the study and there are publications planned for December. As COVID-19 affects everyone, a recording of the conference will be made available. 

Are students actively involved?

Students are participating in several parts of the event. On 22 October, RSU will host the first Psychology Days event – a psychologically educational practical class organised by art therapy lecturers and students during which the key word is “creativity”.

Each fellow psychologist, student, expert and other participants will get the opportunity to acquire methods to identify and activate their personal resources through music, art or movement. 

Participants will be asked to have paper, colour pencils, chalk or markers on hand. The event on 22 October will close with a presentation of several video stories in which Psychology students have interviewed people and asked them to share their experiences during COVID-19. Hopefully, these videos will inspire others and help to identify their inner resources. The interviews are a great example of cooperation – our colleague Alise Tīfentāle is researcher at the Faculty of Communication and one of the leaders of an NRP project. She has supported our psychology students and helped them prepare the videos. 

Will there be any international guest lecturers? 

The aim of the event of 23 October is to reflect on the impact that the global pandemic has had on those who provide psychological support daily. Miguel Ricou, a Doctor of Psychology from the University of Porto and a representative of the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations, will share his experience on the professional identity of European psychologists.

On 23 October, we are going to discuss current trends in professional work environments. We know that many new ideas are beginning to appear with regards to the work environment, networking, strengthening safety, as well as various ethical aspects. Miguel Ricou has agreed to conduct a supervision.

Lecturer Zane Gulbe will speak about the possibilities of and experience of remote psychology. We will also present the Latvian Clinical Personality Inventory manual and discuss trends in modern military psychology. RSU is one of the leaders in the field of military psychology in Latvia. We are proud that we have managed to design and develop a very valuable research tool that has gained wide recognition among psychologists.

The Psychology Days programme is quite extensive and will be beneficial to professionals, cooperation partners and people who are interested in psychology. You are welcome to attend and I hope that each participant will find something useful.