A mental health community platform for children and young people is expanding its availability to Scotland.
Founded in 2001 and launched as a website in 2004, Kooth is the longest provider of mental health support via a digital platform in the UK.
Now with a current customer base of 6 million young people from across the country, the platform plays host to articles, personal stories and tips alongside forums and wellbeing activities such as journalling.
Users are also able to access professional counselling, either through booked appointments or drop-in sessions.
The system allows for complete user anonymity and is currently used in 81% of the NHS’ clinical commissioning group areas across the country.
All of these capabilities will now become available to teenagers across Scotland in the latest phase of the company's ongoing expansion.
"Providing anonymous and safe online support for Scotland’s young people offers an opportunity to deliver on many of the key priorities identified by the Mental Health Taskforce and the recommendations of Scotland’s Youth Commission including delivering person-centred support, early intervention and prevention, offering choice and services that are available outside of 9-5," a press release stated.
The expansion will come as welcome news to many young people in Scotland as data shows the stark toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health.
According to Kooth's own data, among young people, issues related to loneliness have increased by 45%, suicidal thoughts by just over 31%, and self-harm by around 24%.
Problems sleeping, body image issues and eating difficulties are also now present in 9% of its users, according to the company.
Kooth says its services can help many of the young people particularly impacted during the pandemic, especially those belonging to disproportionately affected demographics like minority ethnic, LGBT+ or young carer populations.
The company's move to expand into Scotland is the latest step in its ongoing growth.
In August 2020, the company listed on the stock market to help raise funds for an imminent expansion of its services.
Netting £26 million in the process, the company became available in Wales after the Hywel Dda University Health Board commissioned its use for providing mental health support for 11 to 18-year-olds in West Wales.
“We’re delighted to see that 11-18 year olds in west Wales will now be able to benefit from Kooth’s services," said Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer for Kooth at the time of the announcement.
"A digital mental health service like Kooth is beneficial to young people as it is anonymous and free from the stigma some individuals face."
Kooth's Scotland launch will be promoted through various local campaigns, including direct promotion to young people in schools as well as to GPs and teachers.
Written by Marco Ricci Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health