More emotional support for young people across south east London

Young people aged 11 – 19 years across south east London (Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich) are able to access  confidential and free, digital mental health support service complementing existing mental health provision.

XenZone’s online counselling and emotional wellbeing service, Kooth, was initially established in Lewisham four years ago and following this success it was rolled out to the other five South East London boroughs in February 2019.  From 1 April the age group has been able to incorporate those up to the age of 25 with a key focus on those who may be particularly vulnerable to common mental health problems.

These groups include: care leavers, children with special educational needs and disabilities, youth offending, not in education, employment and training and those stepping down from CAMHS.

Kooth is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and is available online, offering free and safe access to self-help materials, mood-tracking, online journal and goal setting tools and a moderated online community of peers. Young people can also contribute to the Kooth magazine and share their experiences, or take part in moderated online peer-to-peer forums.

Access is free of the typical barriers to support: no waiting lists, no thresholds, no cost and complete anonymity. Launched in 2004 and accredited by the BACP, more than 1,500 children and young people across the country login to Kooth every day.

Qualified counsellors are available on weekdays from midday until 10pm, and from 6pm until 10pm at weekends for booked or drop-in one-to-one therapy.

Dr Nancy Kuchemann, clinical lead for mental health for mental health for South East London CCG said: “Many young people feel particularly vulnerable in south east London and need the support that Kooth can provide.  

“Even before the current Covid-19 situation, many young people were experiencing pressures and anxiety for many reasons.

“They have to cope with day-to-day pressures and this can be very difficult for them. That’s why the service provided by Kooth is so valuable for young people, giving them a framework of much-need help, particularly when they are experiencing a challenging time. 

“That’s why I’m delighted that, in south east London, we’ve been able to extend the service and expand its provision. This is good news for young people living in our part of London, giving them the emotional support at a time when they need it most.”

The service complements existing mental health support that exists in south London, delivered by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and the local voluntary sector.

The transformational digital mental health support service gives children and young people easy access to an online community of peers and a team of experienced counsellors. 

Young people have been involved in the co-production of this digital site and there is a clear view that there are strengths to this model. Kooth is a valued service because it enables a high volume of young people to be supported via online information such as group forums and digital counselling sessions.

An average of 60 young people registers with Kooth each month and these figures have remained consistent over the last two years, demonstrating that there is evident demand for this provision.

Kooth is a tried and tested model and has been in operation since 2001, now operating across over 100 CCG areas across the country, including 27 contract regions in London. The Kooth model is positively acknowledged by Healthy London Partnership within context of good practice provision.