Free online mental health support for young people

Children and young people aged between 11-25 years in Northumberland can now access free, anonymous and safe support from Kooth for their mental health and wellbeing whenever they need to. Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commissioned the service, which is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and requires no waiting lists, referrals or thresholds.

Kooth allows young people across the area to access a range of tools, resources and activities that offer support to those struggling with mental health. These include online discussion boards, reading and contributing to self-help articles, daily goal trackers and an online journal. The service has recently launched an online activity hub which provides activities that young people can do at home to help them manage mental health or wellbeing challenges. Online counselling is also available on Kooth, with qualified counsellors available through an online chat service. Sessions with counsellors can be booked in advance or accessed sooner through a drop in service between 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10pm on weekends.

NHS Northumberland CCG has commissioned Kooth as part of its ongoing strategy to support young people with their mental health in the area. The commissioning group will be working with local communities to raise awareness of the new service.

Kate O’brien, senior head of commissioning for child health, learning disabilities and mental health at the CCG said: “We’re so excited to be commissioning Kooth as part of our services in Northumberland. We know how important it is to have mental health support in place for young people to help them at an early stage before problems escalate.

“The recent pandemic has further accelerated the need for more services and given the rural landscape of Northumberland, Kooth really fits in with the needs of our young people – especially those who are shielding who may be feeling isolated at home. It really gives them an outlet to share their thoughts and experiences with those in similar situations.”

Dr Lynne Green, XenZone’s chief clinical officer, added, “We’re thrilled to see that Northumberland CCG has commissioned the service at a time when young people in rural parts of the country may be feeling especially vulnerable when it comes to their mental health. We hope they access the peer to peer support opportunities available within Kooth to share their experiences with others if they need to. Our friendly counsellors will be available for an online chat or to message at any time if a young person needs to talk.

Our recent data has shown young people in the North East are especially struggling with sleep, sadness and loneliness during the pandemic. Our clinical content team are working hard to ensure there are plenty of articles and discussions within the service that can support young people in managing these issues.”

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