Wokingham Borough Council has announced the launch of ‘Kooth’, a free online counselling and emotional well-being support service for its younger residents aged 11 to 18.
Working in partnership with Berkshire West CCG, West Berkshire Council and Brighter Futures for Children service, the council are reaching out to young people across the borough to offer them emotional support through digital counselling.
Kooth, a service delivered by XenZone, provides young people a safe and secure means of accessing support from a professional team of qualified counsellors, therapists and support workers who provide guided, outcome-focused help for each individual.
It also provides moderated, scheduled forums and self-help articles, many written by service users, to provide peer led and self-help support.
UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services, said: “It is important for us to offer our young people emotional support through this valuable online project, especially during these unprecedented times.
“There are no referrals, thresholds or waiting lists and young people can access this service anonymously by signing onto the Kooth website.
“This service will to reduce waiting times for young people seeking help while helping to remove the stigma around mental health and accessing services”.
Award winning online counselling service Kooth has been accredited by The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP).
Founded in 2001, they are leading pioneers of online counselling in the UK, having won a number of prestigious awards.
The website provides a unique out of office hours’ provision and is open 7 days per week, 365 days a year from noon until 10pm weekdays and from 6pm until 10pm on Saturday and Sundays.
Katrina Anderson, director of joint commissioning for Berkshire West CCG, said: “Kooth is a widely respected tool with a good track record of delivering vital mental health support to children and young people. It’s working very well in many other areas of the country where it is accessible to more than 75 per cent of 11-18 year olds.
“Covid has placed specific challenges on young people — the sudden interruption of their school life, separation from their friends, social isolation, being at home with family members who may be worried about jobs and finances, concerns about health – all on top of the other issues young people struggle with as they are growing up.”
“And these sort of worries won’t go away for many of them when they go back to school in September which is why this easy-to-access online service is so invaluable.”
Ms Anderson added: “As we emerge from Covid it’s clear there will be increased pressure on our services that offer emotional and mental health services and Kooth will help ease that demand.
“People with higher risk needs will still be provided with a network of appropriate support, and the professionals running the Kooth service will also identify cases online that are in need of extra help.
“However, in many cases, children and young people can be supported very ably by the online service, talking to their contemporaries, sharing their own stories and coping strategies.”
Deborah Glassbrook, director of children’s services at Brighter Futures for Children which delivers education, early help and children’s social care services in Reading, said: “I am delighted the Kooth online counselling service is now available to young people in Reading.
“We should not under-estimate the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people. Schooling was brought to an abrupt end for most pupils who then went months without seeing their friends and teachers and lost the daily structure to their lives.
“We have been actively promoting this well-respected counselling service and will continue to do so. I am sure it will be a great benefit to many young people as they adjust to life after lockdown.”
For further details log on to Kooth.com.