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Seal of approval for plans to launch new mental health services


The county council has approved plans for new online and telephone mental health services to support adults, young people and children in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

This is an unprecedented and challenging situation for everyone. As well as the Covid-19 outbreak potentially increasing anxiety about health, job security, and finances – social isolation and changes in routine and relationships may also contribute to mental health difficulties.

The council is introducing new mental health services that are easy for people to access without necessarily needing a referral from a health professional, to make sure there is enough support available in the county for people who need it.

What are the new mental health services?

  • Access to trained online counsellors for adults and young people. ‘Qwell’ for adults and ‘Kooth’ for young people aged 11 to 18 will include self-care resources and access to trained online counsellors, and will be open to anyone experiencing issues with their emotional wellbeing, such as stress or anxiety.
  • An anonymous helpline for children and young people aged 9 to 21 who are struggling with mild or temporary emotional wellbeing and mental health issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Funded counselling sessions for adults whose mental health has been more severely affected by Covid-19, for example, by worsening existing mental health issues or because of a bereavement, and who wouldn’t normally be able to access counselling and pay for it themselves
  • Online mental health training and Psychological First Aid training for first responders and community volunteers to help them support people in the community who may be struggling with their mental health. The service will also run a pilot of volunteer emotional support to look after the wellbeing of the volunteer workforce during the pandemic.

Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “This is a challenging time for everyone and it’s totally normal to feel anxious or worried. I would urge anyone who is concerned about their own mental health to reach out and get the support they need. If you are worried about someone close to you, it’s also important that you encourage them to seek help too. I hope that these new services, will go some way to providing the support and comfort people need at this time.”

The services will be rolled out between April and June, and will be funded by the county council. The new emergency packages will work alongside existing mental health services to make sure people get the right support when they need it.

You can find more information about the services in the cabinet paper and about looking after your wellbeing here.

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