A new mental health support service for adults has been launched in south east London, hoping to help people deal with the mental impact of the pandemic.

NHS South East London CCG has commissioned Kooth, a leading provider of digital mental health support, who will lead a free, anonymous online counselling and emotional welling service called Qwell.

Commissioned in response to the challenges of Covid-19 and the multiple lockdowns, which Kooth say has seen a surge in demand, the service is available to any adult aged 26 or over.

Dr Nancy Kuchemann, GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The pandemic and months of restrictions have had an impact on everybody’s mental wellbeing.

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"I’m really pleased that we have launched this innovative service to support south east London residents. It is so easy to use and can really help people who are struggling.”

A similar service for younger people aged 10-25 living in south east London is also accessible anonymously and for free with Kooth.

Recent data from Qwell suggests the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on adult's mental health - one in five using the service (21.3%) are presenting with suicidal thoughts, more than half (54.6%) are presenting with anxiety and 27.1% say they feel sad.

Qwell is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and offers 'early preventative care and support without any prior thresholds to meet.'

Adults aged over 26 years of age can receive free counselling sessions from qualified counsellors via an online chat-based platform.

Chats can either be accessed through a drop-in service or pre-booked sessions from any connected device.

The site is open 24 hours a day; one-to-one counselling sessions with a qualified counsellor are available from 12-noon until 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm until 10pm on weekends.

Those using Qwell will also be able to take advantage of a range of self-help tools from reading and contributing to articles, peer to peer support via online discussion boards as well as journals and goal trackers.

Dr Lynne Green, Kooth’s chief clinical officer added:“We’re very pleased that we are now able to provide support and counselling to adults living in South East London.

"We encourage people to use Qwell as a source of support during this difficult time.

"Via peer-generated content, discussion boards and self-help articles, we aim to help at a range of levels and to create a much-needed sense of community. Our qualified counsellors are also on hand 365 days a year to provide support and guidance as when people need it in a safe and confidential environment."