CHILDREN and young people in Blackburn with Darwen can now get access to free online counselling and mental health support on a range of issues.

XenZone, the digital mental health pioneer, has been commissioned by Blackburn with Darwen Council to provide its online counselling and mental health support service, Kooth, to local children and young people aged 11-18.

Kooth offers easy access to peer-to-peer support, moderated forums, goal setting and self-help materials 24-hours a day.

Forum topics vary from exam stress and bullying to eating disorders, suicide and self-harm.

Experienced, professional counsellors are also available to offer young people support in one-to-one sessions, from mid-day until 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm until 10pm at weekends.

Kooth is a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) accredited service and has been commissioned in Blackburn with Darwen for an initial 12-month pilot.

Cllr Damian Talbot, executive member for public health and wellbeing at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "We’re delighted to be working with XenZone on this.

"The more support available for mental health the better as removing stigma is so vitally important.

"The support is available at a time and place convenient to young people and is easily accessible on a phone, tablet or computer. "This resource offers both peer support as well as support from accredited counsellors, therapists and support workers.

XenZone founder Elaine Bousfield added: "Digital services help young people to seek help as soon as a problem arises, giving them control and choice over the support they receive.

"Mental health support should be easily accessible for every individual and we hope, through this new commission in Blackburn with Darwen, that more young people seek help for their mental health."