Greater Manchester has become the first UK region to provide digital mental health support to everyone aged 10 to 99 and over.
Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has commissioned Qwell, delivered by Kooth, for adults aged 26 and over to access a free, confidential and safe digital mental health service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There is no referral needed from a health professional, waiting lists or criteria to qualify for this support.
Children aged 10 to 18 have already been able to access the Kooth.com service, which has now been extended to those up to 25.
Qwell provides professional help for any mental health concerns and can be accessed via any internet-connected device.
Prof Sandeep Ranote, interim medical executive lead for mental health at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We believe this is a significant and important step towards delivering the health and care that the population of Greater Manchester deserves.
“It shows having the freedom and flexibility to make our own decisions over some of the most important things in our lives is a huge opportunity, as well as a great responsibility. That’s why we took charge of our health and social care in Greater Manchester and set out a plan of what was needed across all 10 boroughs.
“We know that early intervention and treatment can have a significantly positive impact on an adult, child or young person’s mental health and may prevent problems from becoming worse.
“Being safe, accessible and confidential was important to help reduce the stigma that’s often associated with mental health, and ensure that those seeking support have somewhere to go that matches their needs. We look forward to seeing the impact Kooth and Qwell will have on our city region.”
Across both services, counselling and well-being support, including one-on-one sessions with qualified practitioners, run from noon to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 10pm at weekends. Appointments can be booked in advance or accessed via a drop-in instant text-based chat.
There are also self-help articles, forums, and discussion boards, with content appropriate for the relevant age groups, which is moderated and approved by medical experts.
Qwell and Kooth users can keep an online journal and monitor their well-being via an interactive goal tracker.
Tim Barker, chief executive officer at Kooth Plc, said: “By working in partnership with us, the team at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership is ensuring that every adult and child over 10 years old has access to safe and accessible mental health support outside of the normal nine-to-five. This is almost two million people that will benefit from a clinically robust service. It has been designed to provide adults – as well as children and young people – with access to timely and effective mental health care based on their individual preferences and needs.
"Greater Manchester has really raised the bar when it comes to supporting everyone in its care with their mental health.”