With social distancing and self-isolating now forming our new norm, so too are meetings over Zoom, hangouts on HouseParty, and FaceTime chats with family. However, whilst this provides us with ways to stay connected, it’s presenting a rising challenge in the form of ‘phone anxiety’. Recognising this as a barrier preventing people from asking for help, Living Well UK has today debuted its first live chat function: connecting people to trained therapists via instant messenger.
The chat box – which has been funded by the Tesco Bags of Help grant, administered by Groundwork UK – can be found on the Living Well UK website and instantly connects users to a psychotherapy professional. After asking a few routine questions, the therapist can delve a little deeper to get to the root of the problem. Specialists can then offer advice and support via the chat, before signposting relevant services to address the specific needs. Varying from COVID-19 support through to situational counselling, the chat function will also offer the option for therapists to follow-up with individuals, checking in even after the conversation is closed.
The latest service to be launched by Living Well UK, the live chat function is designed to add to the recent crisis call-lines rolled out by the charity. Providing two helplines for those looking for mental health and wellbeing support in relation to worries or anxiety around coronavirus, Living Well UK and partners Mind Birmingham and NHS Clinical Commissioning Group have already taken over 1,000 calls in the last four weeks.
Speaking about this new tech-led offering, Living Well UK’s CEO Ben Howells commented:
“It goes without saying that the current pandemic has altered the way we approach all aspects of everyday life; in turn, a huge shift in the way we communicate, operate, and facilitate the needs of those looking for support was paramount. With surveys showing a staggering 81% of millennials asked felt anxious about taking calls, we know that our crisis phone-lines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding ways for people to reach out.
“Working with the Tesco Bags of Help fund, we’re tremendously proud to have been able to roll out our new chat box function on our website. Not only will this help more people receive professional support when they need it, but it is another way that we can make our services accessible to all in the West Midlands. The chat box will connect users instantly, giving them live advice from real therapists and signposting them to services that they might find useful, all via the web.”
Living Well UK is the West Midlands’ leading consortium of mental health charities and service providers, and last year helped over 10,000 people in the region find treatment and wellness programmes. Determined to help destigmatise conversations around mental health and empower people to take care of their wellbeing, Living Well UK’s community model centres around prevention, wellness, and resilience, as well as recovery.
“With the current climate as it is, we feel there was no more pressing time to debuting a new, virtual channel for people to seek advice and speak to wellbeing professionals. Since COVID-19, we’ve seen our days revolve around screens, even more than usual, so we wanted to make sure that there was a place created for people to turn to online, as well as when they’ve logged off. We sincerely hope that our newly-launched chat box will help us to do just that, and help more people feel comfortable about talking to someone. There’s no problem too small to share, and we hope that we can help more people feel comfortable and heard reaching out,” concluded Ben.
To access the Living Well UK chat, you can just head to: https://livingwellconsortium.com/.