A free, online counselling service for children and young people experiencing emotional and mental health issues has launched in Bedford Borough.
The service, Kooth, is provided by XenZone, an online mental health provider commissioned by Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, as part of a wider partnership with neighbouring councils and health commissioners.
Kooth is available for young people aged 11-19 living in Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Children and young people have access to articles written by young people, can join forums to receive peer-to-peer support, access self-help materials and keep a daily journal.
The regular forums cover a range of topics from exam stress and anxiety to eating disorders and grief.
Young people can also drop-in or book a one-to-one online 'chat' session with a trained counsellor between 12pm and 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm and 10pm at weekends, all year round.
Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing said, “This innovative service enables children and young people to access expert counselling and emotional wellbeing support all year round in a way they feel comfortable, without the need to share their name or personal details.”
Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti Clinical Lead for Children, Young People and Maternity services at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “In Bedfordshire the CCG and partners are focussed on improving access to children and young people mental health services, and children and young people’s mental health is a critical component of the NHS Long Term Plan. I am delighted that local young people will be able to get support through this ground-breaking new service”
Children and young people can sign up to the service via their laptop, tablet or smartphone and can access all the self-help materials, articles and forums linked to emotional wellbeing at www.kooth.com.