New helpline for young people

A new online counselling service has been launched to help young people across Norfolk to safeguard their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

To tie in with Mental Health Awareness Week, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has commissioned Kooth, a free website for 11 to 25-year-olds, offering young people access to online counselling from qualified counsellors 365 days a year. It also gives young people the chance to benefit from peer support and a wide range of self-help materials, as well as contribute to moderated forums.

The platform has been rolled out in Norfolk and Waveney after proving a success in Suffolk, where it launched in October. Since then, it has been accessed 3,100 times, with 97pc of users saying they would recommend it to a friend.

Young people can use Kooth to seek support or advice on any topic they wish, from managing their feelings during the pandemic or coping with exam stress or bullying to seeking help for an eating disorder, dealing with suicidal thoughts or handling sexual abuse. They can also track their mood, as well as note their thoughts in an online journal.

Al Bailey, children and young people transformation manager with NSFT, said: “We are really pleased that we are now able to offer this additional resource to help young people across Norfolk and Waveney manage their feelings during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

“As a result of the outbreak, some young people are unable to access their usual support networks, while others may not feel comfortable talking to family members. Kooth gives them the opportunity to share their feelings confidentially with others or with a qualified counsellor so that they can receive the best support to help them deal with issues or worries.

“Young people are often extremely comfortable with chatting online, so using this media is a fantastic way to engage with them, especially if they find more traditional ways of accessing services difficult.”

Expanding access to online wellbeing support has long been planned, but NSFT accelerated the commissioning of Kooth in response to the covid-19 crisis.

Children, young people and families have worked closely with mental health commissioners and providers within the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership to shape this vision, and have been at the forefront of helping to design the look and feel of online wellbeing services.

Kooth will be in place for the next 12 months and is available by visiting www.kooth.com

For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year carries the theme of “kindness”, visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week. To join the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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