Complementing existing services, support will be available to children and young people as well as adults seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The move to secure services from Kooth (for those aged 10-18) and Togetherall (for those aged 16+) is part of joint working between Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, Police Scotland, NHS Grampian and third sector partners including Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action. It is being funded by a Scottish Government grant to support the development of community mental health services for children and young people.
Presentations have been shared with groups of young people and parents for them to see what the new services have to offer in terms of early intervention and providing life skills to encourage young people to help themselves and others in the same situation. The services have also been backed by senior leaders from educational psychology, schools, school nursing, police, children’s social work, CAMHS, public health and Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action, who work together as part of Aberdeenshire’s GIRFEC Mental Health Group.
GIRFEC Strategic Group Chair and Director of Education and Children’s Services for Aberdeenshire Council, Laurence Findlay explains: “These services offer an alternative form of support for those who perhaps aren’t ready to speak in person yet and/or wish to remain anonymous.
“We know, broadly speaking, that many women and girls are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and poorer wellbeing than was the case prior to the pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s still the case that many boys and men can find it hard to talk about how they are feeling, and sometimes this can make it more difficult for them to access support. These digital mental health services offer an alternative form of help which will appeal to many people, provide early support and reduce the risk of needing more intensive support later down the line.”
It is also a welcome move for community mental health practitioners who recognise the importance of early intervention.
Geraldine Fraser who is one of three Partnership Managers for Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership adds: “Around a quarter of us will suffer with mental ill health at some point in our lifetime and talking about it can be difficult.
"Our new digital services are great resources which will help everyone who needs it. So, if you are concerned about your mental wellbeing or have noticed that you are not feeling yourself and you need some support then please use these services.”
The services were chosen after positive feedback from children, parents and partners; they both offer self-help and peer-support via safe online communities who have tried and tested approaches to supporting children, young people and adults. Both providers will integrate with face-to-face local services to ensure a seamless service for young people and adults.
Kooth (for those aged 10 - 18) provide 1:1 sessions with counsellors and emotional wellbeing practitioners available via drop-in or booked appointment which helps to reduce waiting times for young people seeking help, removing stigma around mental health. This service can be accessed by young people directly by registering at www.kooth.com Support is also available to schools and staff supporting children and young people by emailing [email protected]
Check out Kooth’s recent #dontdoitalone campaign video which has celebrity backing here
To find out more about what the service has to offer visit vimeo.com
Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer at Kooth Plc added: “We are proud to have been given the opportunity to shape mental health services for children and adolescents in Aberdeenshire. The past twelve months have upended all of our lives in some way, for many negatively affecting mental health. Online digital mental health services empower young people to access immediate and anonymous support as soon as they need it, whether that’s joining one of our live discussion forums, reading a self-help article or scheduling a one-to-one counselling session with one of experienced therapists.
Our message to everyone is that there’s no problem too big or small that we can’t try to help you with."
Togetherall (16+ age group) will help to bridge between youth and adult services with appropriate mental wellbeing support. Trained and accredited professionals are available 24/7 to support the community members and there’s a choice of safe therapeutic services, including courses, self-assessments and wellbeing resources to improve your mental health. This means anyone who may be struggling can get support at a time that suits them, from a place of their choice.
The Togetherall community is completely anonymous.
This service can be accessed by inputting your postcode at www.togetherall.com and creating a completely anonymous user account.
Find out more about how it all works by visiting YouTube
Togetherall CEO Henry Jones commented: “I’m delighted to welcome all residents 16+ living in Aberdeenshire to the Togetherall community. It has no doubt been a challenging year for our mental health, so it’s important that people have the resources necessary to reach out for help if they need to. Our community is here to support every member 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Young people as well as practitioners will be consulted on the impact and benefits of the services over time.
Around 150 young people from Mearns Academy were engaged in seeing a presentation about the services earlier this year, and were particularly positive about the potential this has to support their peers across Aberdeenshire.