Digital health pioneer XenZone will launch its online mental health support service, Kooth, in Sheffield after being commissioned by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The commission, part of the local Council and CCG’s response to the Young Healthwatch Report on young people’s self-worth, will give local children and young people aged 11-18 free and anonymous access to Kooth’s BACP-accredited online counselling and emotional support service.
Young people can log on to the service for free and access anonymous online counselling and mental well-being support. One-to-one instant messaging sessions with qualified counsellors are available from 12-noon until 10pm on weekdays and between 6pm and 10pm on weekends.
Kooth also offers access to self-help materials, mood-tracking and goal setting tools, counsellor messaging and peer-to-peer support through moderated online forums. The forums address issues that range from exam stress and depression to self-harm and relationship problems.
NHS Sheffield CCG aim to increase the number of young people accessing support for their mental health. Kooth will be integrated into the Council’s Early Help offer, mental health support in schools as well as Health and Social Care services, including specialist mental health support for children and young people. Kooth will link with the Healthy Minds Framework delivered by CAMHS in schools, and the Youth Information Advice and Support Service, Door 43 delivered by Sheffield Futures, with a face-to-face counselling offer from Interchange.
Dr Steve Thomas, Sheffield GP and Clinical Lead Director for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Dementia at NHS Sheffield CCG, said: “Mental health and wellbeing is a huge priority for Sheffield, for the NHS, and for the Council. It’s important that we find and resource a variety of ways to support young people’s mental health – this includes our new online counselling service, delivered by Kooth.
“We hope that online counselling and support is one way for young people to access help and advice, even when life is busy. It’s easy to use and they can help with anything you need to talk about, no matter how big or small it seems. This is all part of our commitment to transform mental health services in the city together – we’re committed to improve the wellbeing of people in Sheffield, and to make sure no-one is left behind.”
Elaine Bousfield, XenZone founder said, “Digital services such as Kooth help young people to have control and autonomy over their support which can encourage individuals to get help as soon as a problem arises, rather letting it escalate. We want to fully integrate Kooth within Sheffield, allowing more young people to get early help for their mental wellbeing.”