News 21 April

Sir Norman Lamb Hosts Mental Health Advisory Board Meeting to Discuss Digital Support During Covid-19 Outbreak

[Picture: top row L-R: Prof Chris Hollis, Dr Liz England, Elaine Bousfield, Dr Sandeep Ranote and Dr Matthew Patrick. Bottom row L-R: Prof Shon Lewis, Sir Norman Lamb, Steve Gilbert OBE, Sarah Hughes and Gregor Henderson]

  • Sir Norman: “The role of safe and accredited digital services now becomes critical.”
  • XenZone announces new Advisory Board, chaired by Sir Norman Lamb
  • Board discusses expansion of XenZone’s digital mental health services to support UK mental health and wellbeing during and after coronavirus outbreak
  • Agreement over critical role of digital in delivering safe, clinical services

XenZone, the UK’s largest digital mental health provider, held its first Advisory Board meeting this month, chaired by Sir Norman Lamb, which saw senior figures meet via video conference to discuss the critical nature of safe and accredited digital support during the coronavirus outbreak.

Discussion centred around expanding XenZone’s flagship online mental health services, Kooth and Qwell, which are available through the NHS, giving greater numbers of people access to therapeutic support.

According to Sir Norman, “There was a recognition among the Advisory Board that traditional services are unable to deliver the support that’s needed. The role of clinically robust and safe digital services is now critical.”

Board members (see ‘notes’ at the end of this press release for a full list of members) also discussed getting support to hard-to-reach groups and cohorts in particular need, including those who are isolated, those unable to access traditional services and people who may experience deterioration of mental health due to issues such as increased debt, unemployment, grief or social isolation.

In commissioned areas, XenZone already provides online support for specific cohorts, including parents, teachers, victims of crime, those who are experiencing or who have been the victims of domestic violence and people with mental health conditions.

Sir Norman: “There is an urgent need to recognise the groups of people who will need specific support during this period of lockdown. Health and social care workers, small business owners, people who work in the gig economy, those at risk from domestic violence, pregnant women, people missing their usual community support services – and a host of other groups who will be experiencing anxiety.

I’m keen to see digital support services like Kooth and Qwell helping as many people as possible get through this period in the best way possible.”

XenZone’s chief commercial officer Annie Meharg commented on the response to Covid-19 from NHS commissioners: “We are seeing a significant increase in the number of commissions for our services from the NHS and Local Authorities, from commissioners keen to ensure continued clinical and community provision for those currently accessing traditional services and for those who are at risk of deteriorating mental health due to the impact of COVID 19.

We offer a safe online community where people can explore their mental health needs with support from qualified clinicians when needed.”

Increased demand for mental health and emotional wellbeing support:

XenZone’s Kooth service for children and young people is seeing an increased demand for support. Those online are sharing concerns around many issues impacted by COVID-19, including: 

  • Being able to self-manage existing mental health concerns, such as eating disorders or self-harm
  • Concern for family wellbeing
  • Uncertainty around exams and university places
  • Anxiety around loss of usual routine and access to services
  • Worry around being stuck a home where some do not feel comfortable


XenZone’s Advisory Board Members include: