Thousands of people across Greater Manchester are being supported by new digital and online services as part of city-region response to mental health during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected citizens across Greater Manchester with people reporting mental health issues caused by loneliness, isolation and personal circumstances.
Greater Manchester quickly recognised to offer support to residents with mental health issues such as anxiety, low-mood or stress and a range of digital support services were quickly identified and rolled-out in April 2020. These would allow which would allow adults, children and young people to access support at home and minimise the need for people to attend GP surgeries or hospital. Ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October, Greater Manchester is reminding residents of the services available to support them.
Services rolled out across GM include:
- SHOUT – a confidential 24/7 text service operated by trained crisis volunteers who will chat using text responses. Advice is available for anyone struggling: anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, abuse or assault, self-harm, bullying or relationship issues
- Kooth – an online counselling and emotional wellbeing platform for children and young people
- SilverCloud – an online therapy programme for adults proven to help with stress, anxiety, low-mood and depression
In the first three months since launching across Greater Manchester, the Kooth online counselling and wellbeing platform was accessed by 4,300 children and young people of which 65% were new users. This has resulted in over 11,700 messages on the platform and almost 6,000 article views. Overall 95% of users said they would recommend Kooth and 84% said they felt heard.
Feedback from one user included the comment: “I feel so much more positive about myself now. I feel like a different person. I feel supported and valued and as a result I’m making changes in my life.”
Adults in Greater Manchester have also been supported through new digital mental health services. Since April 2020, 1,013 people have accessed SilverCloud’s online self-help mental health support, including programmes for stress, anxiety, low-mood and depression, have been accessed. On average more than 90% of users found the modules to be interesting, relevant, helpful or supportive.
Similarly, 136 conversations have taken place on the free crisis text messaging service SHOUT 24/7 using the GM keyword. The service allows residents to have a confidential text chat with a trained crisis volunteer about issues including anxiety, depression, loneliness, relationship issues or self-harm. A user satisfaction survey shows that 96% of respondents found the conversation to be useful. It is expected that many more people across the region may have accessed the service without using a GM keyword or using a nationally-promoted keyword.
One user said: “I really appreciate all the help offered. It was nice to be able to tell someone what happened to me without feeling ashamed of it.”
Another said: “Thank you again for your time. It was nice to talk to somebody so understanding and who took the time to listen and acknowledge.”
We’re working with Health Innovation Manchester to review the outcomes of the digital services and plan for the future of mental health support following COVID-19. You can read more about the review here
Zulfi Jiva, Head of Cross Cutting Programmes at the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, and Cara Afzal, Senior Programme Development Lead at Health Innovation Manchester have written a blog Supporting Greater Manchester’s Mental Health through partnership working