Kingston’s Young People Given Free Anonymous Access to Professional Counsellors
XenZone, pioneer of online counselling and wellbeing services, has been commissioned by Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide Kooth, its professional digital counselling service, to children and young people in the borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. The service is available to anyone aged between ten and 22 and is free at the point of need.
The service will give young people anonymous and immediate access to qualified psychotherapists and British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) certified counsellors via any connected device, including a smartphone. The service has been commissioned in response to feedback from local young people and as part of the CCG’s drive for early intervention in response to emerging mental health problems.
Kooth offers year-round, live text-based chat with experienced, professional counsellors up to 10pm every night. It also gives young people access to self-help resources, moderated forums and discussion groups. They can book scheduled chats with named counsellors and are free to read and contribute to the Kooth online magazine.
Online counselling services, such as Kooth, can transform waiting times for children and young people who need therapy for mental health issues, and are recognised as eliminating the stigma often associated with getting help. Early support can prevent problems worsening and leading to the need for more specialist support.
Elaine Bousfield, founder and chair of XenZone, said: “As an organisation, we are committed to making access to mental health support as straightforward as possible. Through Kooth, we have seen how a digital service can give vital early support, which can dramatically transform lives. As part of our work with Kingston CCG, we will also be working with local schools to promote pupil wellbeing and to address specific mental health issues.”
According to Elizabeth Brandill, Lead Commissioner for Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group, “Kooth is a tried and tested professional service and we are confident Kingston’s children and young people will benefit hugely. We will be looking to help those with emotional wellbeing or emerging mental health problems, many of whom will need targeted, short-term support. We will also help harder to reach communities who are perhaps uncomfortable with the prospect of face-to-face therapy.”
Kooth will be immediately integrated with existing services, working in collaboration with local support organisations. It is expected, as a result of commissioning the service, that demand on specialist children’s services – particularly CAMHS and social care – will reduce.