25 July

Devon Early Help for Mental Health

XenZone is an integral part of the Early Help for Mental Health (EH4MH) service in Devon, delivering early intervention online support through Kooth, the mental health and emotional well-being platform for children and young people. Watch the video below to find out more


Meeting high demand for young people’s mental health services

Responding to young people’s emerging mental health issues, in 2014 Public Health Devon (in consultation with schools) set out to commission a new emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing service for children and young people in Devon.

The aim of EH4MH is to build resilience in children and young people by tackling mental health problems before they become more serious. Through EH4MH, this is done in two ways:

  • By giving young people access to self-help tools, good information, online counselling and appropriate levels of support.
  • By supporting school staff to develop their knowledge of mental health conditions affecting young people and strategies supporting children with early signs of mental and emotional stress.

After recognising the success that its sister region Cornwall had since implementing Kooth, Devon was keen to replicate the model and commissioned Kooth to provide the online counselling element of the EH4MH service.


A vital collaboration for access and availability

Kooth is one of three partners in Devon’s EH4MH service, working collaboratively with Virgin Care and Young Devon.

EH4MH aims to change the culture around mental health in schools and provide support to young people at the earliest possible opportunity. EH4MH is an early-intervention service with a long term goal of reducing the need for more specialist services.

Kooth is providing young people in Devon aged 11 to 18 years access to online counselling, moderated peer-to-peer advice and self-help tools through the online platform. Young people can access the platform 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and interactive counselling is available till 10pm every night. The entry way for many children in the area, Kooth can then signpost on to further support, such as the face-to-face service provided by Young Devon.

The collaboration sees practitioners educating school staff on basic mental health concerns so they can manage low level issues. With Tier 1 issues such as anxiety, stress and friendships the most presented issues by children and young people in Devon, the goal over the longer term is to improve access to services and reduce waiting times by taking a stepped approach to support. Aiming to reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues, school staff can also access clinical based supervision.


Measurable outcomes
Nine months into delivering the service, results are strong with a collaborative partnership promoting the service in the community, generating awareness of Kooth to young people.

  • An average of 300 active users in one month alone, with this number growing by an average of 88 new users a month
  • 90% of log ins are returning visitors
  • 97% of young people say they’re planning to come back soon to use the service again
  • 97% would recommend the service to a friend
  • 68% of log ins are out of office hours


“The GP said he had never seen anyone turn things around so quickly. He was really pleased with how (our son) had improved and wanted me to send his thanks to you.” Mother of Kooth user


Reporting shows that young people are achieving their goals through Kooth. Goals are logged on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. The average upward movement per young person over the quarter is five positive places towards achieving their goal.


“It is a pleasure working with the XenZone team to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the young people in Devon. XenZone are a group of professional and passionate people who consistently seek out innovative ways to ensure young people can access the kinds of resources and support that will help them lead happy and healthy lives. The organisation’s commitment to partnership working has enabled Devon County Council’s Public Health team to successfully bring together the right combination of partners to better meet the needs of young people in Devon.’’  Becky Carmichael, Public Health Specialist (Children, Young People and Families), Public Health Directorate.


The future? Exemplifying a joined up service
As part of EH4MH in Devon, the partnership has created a unique threshold document, which outlines which service is the right support for which young person. This clarity in a multi-disciplinary, joined up service is essential to co-ordinate and monitor the work being carried out. XenZone will be using the learning from this document to encourage similar initiatives across other regions.