News 7 December

Students at University of the West of England First to Access Free, Online Counselling and Support Service

UWE Bristol Commissions Kooth Student to provide additional mental health and wellbeing support

XenZone, pioneer of online counselling and wellbeing services, has today launched Kooth Student, a new online therapy service for students, announcing an initial pilot with the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

From September this year, UWE Bristol has offered free, anonymous online counselling to its 28,000 students. Kooth Student means timely mental health support, with no waiting lists – as well as eliminating the stigma often associated with asking for help.

The University, which commissioned the service to provide students with another way of accessing mental health and wellbeing support, has integrated Kooth Student into its existing welfare services. These include a 90-minute therapeutic consultation session, daily drop-in counselling services and peer-assisted learning workshops.

Since the service went live, it has seen over 1,300 log-ins from students. 65% of those have been outside traditional hours. There have been over 130 live chat sessions with counsellors and students have exchanged almost 700 messages with therapists. The average age of those looking for support via Kooth at UWE Bristol is 19-20. 19% of registrants are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds – communities which are typically harder to reach in terms of offering mental health support.

Kooth Student is an online resource, with experienced counsellors available for one-to-one sessions beyond regular daytime hours. Articles and self-help information are available anytime; students can leave messages for counsellors whenever they choose. Students also have access to an online mood journal and an online space to set and track their goals, often in partnership with their therapist. They can also take part in live moderated forums.

The multi-disciplinary online counselling team are available between mid-day and 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm until 10pm at weekends.

According to Professor Steve West, Vice-Chancellor and President of UWE Bristol, “We provide a wide range of mental health and wellbeing services but we are keen to ensure students have the ability to access the support and advice they need in a way that bests suits them. Some students feel more comfortable asking for support online rather than face to face, and the early results that we’re getting since launching Kooth show that it has been positively received.

“We are committed to making mental health and wellbeing a strategic priority for the University, embedding it in everything we do so that we can develop an open, supportive and caring environment in which everyone can thrive and grow.”

XenZone’s Chair and Founder, Elaine Bousfield, said: “Worryingly, rising numbers of students are suffering with mental health issues, which need addressing in a timely and accessible way. We want to ensure that every student has this access, without the barriers, such as waiting lists, stigma or cost, that sometimes stop someone seeking help.”

XenZone’s Kooth Student service has been offered to all students at UWE Bristol as part of a seven- month pilot. The service can be accessed via any connected device.