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Online counselling and mental health support for children and young people in Trafford

It is Children’s Mental Health Week between 6th and 12th of February where children and young people in the Trafford area are now able to access online counselling and mental health support 365 days a year.

The online service is called Kooth, and offers young people free online chat and messaging with professional counsellors. They also have access to useful and practical articles, self-help documents and pre-moderated message board forums where they can discuss important issues relevant to them. The site is staffed by qualified and experienced Kooth counsellors.

Kooth is providing NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group and Trafford Council with the service following a secondary schools youth conference in November 2016, where young people from a range of schools around Trafford consistently said that they wanted an anonymous form of support.

The anonymous, stigma-free service offers immediate support to users straight after registration and there are no waiting lists, which helps prevent the escalation of concerns. Children and young people who need more specialist mental health support will be referred to child and adolsecnet mental health services (CAMHS) to offer a seamless service.

Since the service began operating in Trafford in September 2017, more than 170 young people have registered with Kooth and 80 per cent of log-ins were outside normal office hours. The team exchanged more than 300 messages with children and young people in this period.

The main presenting issues have been:

· Anxiety/ stress

· Friendships

· Confidence

· Family relationships.

Dr Mark Jarvis, Medical Officer and Clinical Director for Quality and Performance at the CCG, said: We are committed to ensuring we put services in place that identify and manage the emotional and mental health needs of the children and young people of Trafford. Many just need a bit of extra support for what may be short-term mental health problems. However, these are not insignificant issues and may affect their psychological and emotional well-being.

“This service will benefit them immensely and it is hoped Kooth can help build resilience so that going into the adulthood our young people have developed good coping mechanisms.”

Councillor Michael Whetton, Executive Member for Children and Families at Trafford Council, said: “We are providing a service that helps young people manage their emotional wellbeing issues before these problems escalate, resulting in the possible need for more specialist service intervention. Kooth is confidential, fast, simple, free to access and available at a time suited to the young people using it.”

Hania Sulaiman, a member of Trafford Council’s Youth Cabinet, said: “It is great to see how much young people in Trafford have been using Kooth. The anonymity and range of hours makes it a fantastic resource allowing access to proper counselling where and when we feel comfortable and we hope it will continue to support more and more young people in the future.”

Free year-round support from qualified professional counsellors will be available to children and young people aged 11-25, Monday-Friday, from 12-10pm and at weekends from 6-10pm. It is accessible via a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone at http://www.kooth.com

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