AN online service, which provides free counselling and wellbeing support to young people, has been launched by an NHS Trust.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) has commissioned Kooth, a website which gives young people instant access to emotional and wellbeing advice or support when they need it.

Designed for those aged 11 to 18, the site incorporates self-help articles and online tools such as a mood tracker, as well as professional online therapy and moderated peer-to-peer forums.

The service is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and provides a safe environment where young people can chat anonymously and in confidence with qualified counsellors, who are online from 12-noon until 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm until 10pm, 365 days a year.

Chris Davis, TEWV head of service for children and young people, said: “Digital technology is a daily part of people’s lives now, especially for children and young people.

"They expect to be able to go online to get instant access the help and support they need. Being able to have a presence online to provide advice and guidance to young people in our area is essential in helping drive forward mental health provision.

“We have commissioned the Kooth service to complement our existing care provision.

"The online counsellors are fully qualified, experienced and where necessary will signpost children and young people to wider support available, as well as having the ability, when information is provided to them, to refer them directly on to our services if needed.”

Kooth is operated by XenZone, digital mental health provider, and allows young people to sign up without having to provide personal details such as their name or address.

Elaine Bousfield, XenZone’s founder, said: “It’s so important that young people can access support when they need it with none of the stigma they may feel is sometimes attached to seeking help.

"We look forward to integrating Kooth with local services, to help support more young people with their mental wellbeing at the time of need.”

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