Meet the finalists: Parental Box

Supporting the well-being of children and families by giving the parents a mental health toolkit.

© Linda Tammisto
© Linda Tammisto

Becoming a parent can be quite overwhelming, especially if you have not had any support on how to prepare to the new responsibilities and situations. Team Parental Box wants to help families take care of their mental health the way Finnish maternity box already provides material needs for the newborn baby and parents.

The team’s solution is two-fold. First, they would supplement the existing maternity box with informative cards of the challenges parents face when new baby arrives. Second, they aim to open a web platform or a mobile app that offers additional information and services. The platform would also collect valuable longitudinal data about the well-being of families.

“Reaching the finals gave us even more vigor! This sort of recognition is always encouraging,” exclaims Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara, the team leader of Parental Box.

Bringing joy to families with science

In summer, the team is producing content for the information cards and looking for potential partners at full speed. They have met for example digital platform producers and international players that could spread their solution globally.

There are already several mental health services for parents but they are dispersed. Easy access is an essential feature of Parental Box because too often the families find it difficult to search for help. The current services can also be a little cheerless.

“Finding the joy of parenting is at the core of our solution. In addition, easy access to evidence-based information is a necessity.”

Parental Box believes that their science-based solution makes them stand out among the other services.

“We have talked with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and The Social Insurance Institution of Finland and they have clearly appreciated our scientific aspect.”

The new collaborations have given Uusitalo-Malmivaara completely new knowledge.

“I personally have learned a great deal about digital possibilities we have with the platform. Artificial intelligence can collect the data from the users and we can also moderate the discussions on the site so that it remains trustworthy and controlled.”

© Veikko Somerpuro
Mentor Ainomaija Haarla and Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara from team Parental Box at Helsinki Challenge Impact Camp. © Veikko Somerpuro

Fresh innovations and mutual excitement

One of the major realizations the team had during the Helsinki Challenge Impact Camp in April was to involve companies in their project.

“In the beginning we planned only to work with NGOs. During the camp we discovered that multinational businesses are actually very important connections in the developing countries where there are no public maternity clinics.”

Uusitalo-Malmivaara participated in the Helsinki Challenge also in 2014 with a different project. She thinks that all the teams benefit from networking together.

“We might suggest a contact or an idea for some other team who could find it useful. Helping others and the shared enthusiasm is lovely.”

Read Parental Box’s previous story here.


Team members:

Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara, team leader, PhD, adjunct professor, university lecturer, University of Helsinki

Marjo Hannukkala, director, Finnish Association for Mental Health

Risto Hotulainen, assistant professor, Director, Centre for Educational Assessment

Minna Huotilainen, docent, University of Helsinki and Uppsala

Arniika Kuusisto, docent, assistant professor, University of Helsinki and Warwick

Marja-Leena Laakso, professor , dean, University of Jyväskylä

Jukka Mäkelä, MD, Institute for Health and Welfare

Anna-Mari Sajaniemi, MSc, research officer, Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority

Nina Sajaniemi, adjunct professor, head of early education, University of Helsinki

Hanna Sellergren, project manager , Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters

Kaisa Vuorinen, PhD student, special class teacher, University of Helsinki