Kooth PLC

Kooth plc (formally XenZone) was established in 2001 and is the UK’s largest provider of Digital Mental Health solutions for children, young people and adults through our services Kooth and Qwell. We have worked with the NHS for the past two decades to improve mental health in over two thirds of England and Wales, delivering population wide services in 77% of CCG areas across England as one of the only BACP accredited digital services. Users can access articles, publish their own experiences, access a range of self-help tools and peer to peer support, through to asynchronous messaging and synchronous text-based counselling. Our platforms are confidential, responsive, flexible and anonymous, allowing safe access without fear or stigma. Our values are at the heart of our work; and have been built by our Kooth communities and our employees. Kooth plc is alongside you, flexible, compassionate, committed and safe, and we are at the forefront of digital prevention and early intervention.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

We provide anonymised access to around 5.4 million CYPs and adults across the UK to mental health support available 24/7 with BACP accredited counselling available until 10pm every evening, we see around 60% of the access to our services is outside  office hours (5pm to 9am). We provide step down care for IAPT and CAMHS services where individuals are discharged from their treatment, as well as providing services to those who do not meet thresholds or are unknown and therefore ‘invisible’ to primary and secondary mental health services.

Around 1 in 5 adults presents with suicidal thoughts and self-harm to our Qwell service and suicidal thoughts is usually the 2nd – 4th most popular presenting issue across our CYP platform (Kooth) varying by area, with our monthly statistics showing some some national and regional trends, for example, that there was a 250% increase in suicidal thoughts as a presenting issue for CYPs in the Midlands during our June 2020 data release (in comparison to the same period in 2019). Our unique monthly insights allow us to communicate a monthly picture to our commissioners and wider network, with our data featuring in public releases and system wide webinars by the Department of Education, Public Health and NHSE & I over the past six months.

Our support includes creating safety plans for those at risk, which are stored within our user case note in the event a user ‘drops in’ for support, so all of our counsellors can provide tailored support, and risk is assessed during every intervention, meaning we can evaluate support needs and manage this accordingly, as well as providing pathways through to local support wherever required. Our counsellors are training in risk management and suicide prevention, irrespective of their counselling modality, and are offered real-time digital supervision so they are able to access Supervisors during live counselling sessions. We are also in the position to be able to offer BACP accredited digital counselling with wait times that are low in comparison to traditional services, at around 30 minutes on average for CYPs and around 10-15 minutes for adults currently (September 2020) OR at time of writing.

We have a number of services that have been commissioned specifically in response to a local areas suicide prevention needs and we provide representation at local suicide prevention boards as well as contributing our data to the wider mental health network.

You can read our full Suicide Prevention Strategy here.

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What are your current priorities?

Suicide is something we strongly believe is preventable, not inevitable and we are in a position to be able to share live insights into whole population mental health with our commissioners and wider network. Here are Kooth plc’s priorities around suicide prevention in summary:

– Reduce the risk of suicide in key high risk groups of our service user community

– Improve our assessment processes to identify risk factors

– Tailor our interventions and approaches to improve mental health in specific groups

– Provide better information & support to service users who are bereaved & affected by suicide

– Develop and improve our reach, promotion, and participation to engage more people from high risk groups

– Begin to develop and expand our services to include more preventative work, especially relating to families and younger children

– Implement a Trauma Informed Approach across the organisation

– Conduct research, data collection, and monitoring

– Support the media, organisations, & stakeholders to deliver sensitive approaches to suicide

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What challenges are you currently facing?

Whilst we are in the fortunate position to be able to offer anonymity and therefore engage with individuals within society that may otherwise not feel able to access support or ready to engage with mainstream face to face services due to stigma or fear of consequences, we do see a number of key area that have heightened risk areas and we are keen to find innovative solutions to working with these individuals. Specific approaches to supporting the following groups must be adopted in order to reduce their suicide risk;

– Looked After Children and Young People

– Care Leavers

– Children and Young People in the Youth Justice System

– Survivors of abuse

– People living with long term physical health conditions

– People with untreated depression

– People who are subject to social and economic difficulties

– People who misuse drugs or alcohol

– LGBTQ+Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic groups

– Asylum seekers

In addition we are particularly committed to working with our commissioners to develop ways to better engage with men at risk of suicide as we see a high proportion of males across our platforms expressing suicidal thoughts as a key presenting issue.

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