Andy Simm, a Talent Coach at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, has shared how some of his young people have struggled with local lockdowns in Bolton and how an online counselling and emotional well-being platform has helped to open conversations…
For many of the young people on my caseload, mental health and wellbeing have been the biggest concern and some have struggled more than others since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The early restrictions put a large strain on a lot of young people and the services that were/are supporting them; especially those that offered a face-to-face service.
During the national lockdown period, I was having regular conversations and check-ins with young people around their mental health and wellbeing, validating their feelings and generally being a listening ear.
Some struggled with the lockdown and the limitations around where and how I could see them. It was clear quite a few struggled to understand the changing restrictions imposed on Bolton.
During the lockdown period, I attended a webinar that was provided by a service called KOOTH. All Greater Manchester local authorities have bought into KOOTH as one of the key platforms for young people who might need 24/7 access to confidential one-to-one mental health support (KOOTH is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people aged 11 to 18 years).
I shared a KOOTH promotion video with four of my young people, to offer them a tool that they could access at any time for one-to-one support and use to learn more about how to support their own mental health and wellbeing, thereby taking some personal responsibility for looking after themselves.
The young people fed back on how helpful KOOTH has been and what they liked about it. They told me they really enjoyed the discussion board and a chance to talk anonymously to other young people in the KOOTH community and also access other things of interest. They also liked the daily journal and said it was an accessible resource, that is easy to use on your phone.
Since lockdown and the additional local restrictions being put in place, it has been hard to engage a few of the young people as I am not able to get out to see them and engage them in person as I usually would.
Being able to discuss how they found the articles, tools and techniques on KOOTH has given me an opportunity to revisit earlier conversations we’d had around their mental health.
Since this, some of the young people have started to engage weekly in sessions focused on health and wellbeing, and have been able to offload on someone they know and trust.