Free counselling service for young people in Kent called Kooth now available across the county
Youngsters in Kent aged between 10 and 16 can now contact qualified counsellors for up to an hour a week of free 1-2-1 text-based chat.
The service called Kooth, has been commissioned by Kent's health services as part of work to support young people's mental health and wellbeing and is available across the county from this month, with Medway expected to also roll out the service by June 1.
Youngsters can self-refer online, the system is anonymous and there are no waiting lists making it quick and easy for those in need of support to immediately voice their worries - particularly as life in lockdown continues.
Helplines are also manned into the evenings, with between 6pm and 10pm both the most likely time, and consequently often the busiest, when it comes to teens looking for somewhere to offload.
And as pre-teens and teenagers adjust to social distancing and isolating measures as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, those behind the service say they are already experiencing greater demand and increased logins from those signed-up as well as a change in the types of issues children are contacting counsellors about.
Kooth says it has noticed an increase of around 30% in those logging into the service as well as a change in the types of issues and concerns young people are contacting its counsellors with.
Exam stress, bullying and and friendships have become declining issues since March and are being replaced instead with worries about sleep, loneliness, conflict and relationships within the home and concerns around eating disorders.
Children can have up to eight sessions across eight weeks and the service is only text-based, no audio or video is used.
None of Kooth's work replaces other mental health provision for young people in the county but will instead work alongside it, encouraging those who it is felt require additional support to also get in touch with their GP for further face to face support via child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Alongside free text-based chat with a counsellor, those signed up to Kooth can also contribute to message boards on a wide variety of subjects, participate in discussions and read about topics and mental health issues that might interest them or that they could find helpful and supportive.
To learn more about the service visit www.kooth.com