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Mental Health Awareness Week begins today (Monday 10th May 2021)


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● Durham County FA and Kooth launch partnership to raise awareness of mental health issues in children and young people
● Kooth will provide training to enable coaches to identify signs of poor mental health and to signpost children and young people to digital support services
● Kooth has seen an increased demand for digital mental health support from children and young people across the UK during the coronavirus outbreak

As Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off, Durham County FA and Kooth have joined forces to help tackle the stigma, and increase awareness of mental health amongst children and young people.

As part of the partnership Kooth will provide training to officers and coaches across Durham County FA clubs and leagues to help them recognise the signs of poor mental health in children and young people. This will enable them, to help eradicate barriers to seeking support and carry out signposting to professional bodies.

Durham County FA has committed to making children and young people’s mental health a priority. It follows a tumultuous 18 months which has negatively impacted young people’s psychological and emotional wellbeing. Kooth recently published a report highlighting the profound impact the pandemic has had on the lives of young people, including:

● Kooth platform usage was up by 42% amongst children and young people
● Among 10-13 year olds, self-harm issues are being presented by +33% more service users than last year while suicidal thoughts are up by +54%.
● +51% more service users presenting with eating difficulties than in 2019.
● +98% increase in those presenting with sleep difficulties.
● +47% increase in those presenting with feelings of sadness.

John Topping, Company Secretary, Durham County FA, said “Mental health and wellbeing are high on all our agendas and we are delighted to announce our partnership with ‘Kooth’ which is a service that has been commissioned by local authorities, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Foundation Trusts across the North East, offering online counselling, advice and support to young people, between the ages of 11 – 18 with some increases up to age 25 in specific areas. The service allows free access to optional support from qualified counsellors and practitioners regarding how to manage mental health and wellbeing issues in a safe and supportive way.”

Kooth users have access to one-to-one, anonymous counselling sessions with fully trained and qualified counsellors and emotional wellbeing practitioners, 365 days a year. Sessions are available from midday to 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm to 10pm at weekends and holidays. They can be booked in advance or accessed via drop-in instant text-based chats.

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When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, peer-to-peer support is vital for children and young people. Kooth, a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy accredited service, provides a safe and non-judgmental place for young people to talk, connect and chat with others and know they are not alone. The pre-moderated discussion forums offer a safe space for members to share their experiences and an opportunity to ask questions. Running alongside this is 24/7 access to invaluable self-help magazine style content. Written by the Kooth team and including submission from young members, the articles discuss personal experiences and offer helpful tips aimed at supporting members with their mental health and wellbeing.

Malcolm Connelly Senior Kooth Engagement Lead added: “We are really excited to be involved in this important partnership with Durham FA, to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of young people across the county. I have been involved in Grassroots football as a coach at Ryton and Crawcrook Albion Football Club for over 20 years and also worked in a number of schools across the region, supporting our Young People. Football is a great platform for promoting the importance of positive Mental Health and this collaboration can only help in ensuring that all Young People within the football family have access to whatever support they need, however big or small the issue. Hopefully, by working with Durham FA we can raise awareness of the needs of young people within our local communities and ensure that they know where to go for support.”