Ponteland High School wins wellbeing hamper

Ponteland High wins our hamper!

We recently ran a campaign to help us hear from young people aged 13 – 24 who live in Northumberland. We wanted to hear how they were feeling, which healthcare services they had recently used and what their experience had been. To help us reach young people we worked with a number of schools in the county. They helped by distributing information about the campaign, the links to the online form and signposting information to services and organisations providing care, support and advice for young people. As an incentive we were able to offer a £100 Love2Shop voucher in a proze draw to one person who gave us feedback – the winner of the voucher was a student of Castle School in Ashington.

We also offered a wellbeing hamper to the school with the highest percentage of students completing our form. The winner was Ponteland High School – congratulations to them! Pictured is Jonny Greenshields, Assistant Head Teacher at Ponteland High School, being presented with the hamper by our Communication and Marketing Officer, Claire. Jonny told us “We’re very happy to have won the wellbeing hamper as part of this campaign. We scheduled this into lesson plans and the campaign fit extremely well with the work we have been doing with students around ‘having a voice’ in varying aspects of life, from democracy to healthcare.”

The results of this piece of work will be published later in the year.

Sick child and thermometer

Healthier Together

The Healthier Together website is full of useful health advice for parents, carers, young people and health professionals. All of the information has been approved by clinicians so it’s a great place to go for reliable advice.

Topics include common illnesses in babies and children, when to keep your child off school/nursery, support for young people and a guide to how the NHS works.

Healthier Together

If you need some help finding local health and care information or support, please get in touch.

Image of two young people, one holding an umbrella over the other

Have your say on support for children and young people

North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board and Northumberland County Council are looking at how to strengthen support for children and young people with emotional wellbeing and mental health needs.

Northumberland’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy for Children and Young People 2022-25 sets out how this will be achieved.

The aim of the strategy is to give children, young people and their families the confidence that they are receiving the best support possible.

Have your say on the strategy by completing this short survey. Closes 4 February.

loneliness in young people Northumberland

Loneliness in young people

Loneliness in young people

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched its new loneliness in young people campaign activity as part of the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign.

The campaign primarily aims to reach 16-34 year olds by continuing to encourage them to ‘lift someone out of loneliness’, knowing that this will likely help their own feelings of loneliness. This is based on recent research that shows that people in this demographic are at higher risk of feeling lonely compared to other age groups, but less likely to seek advice and support.

Remember that feeling lonely is something that all of us can experience at any point and can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.

Sometimes admitting we feel lonely can be hard but it’s important to remember that many others experience feelings of loneliness too, and that this feeling can pass.

It can often feel easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely and there are plenty of simple, free actions you can take, such as going for a walk, sending someone a text, or inviting someone for a hot drink.


Support and information

If you’re feeling lonely this winter, or want advice on helping others feel less lonely, visit the Every Mind matters loneliness webpage 

Take the Mind Plan quiz to get a personalised mental health action plan with practical tips to help you deal with loneliness as well as stress, anxiety, low mood and trouble sleeping.

Find more resources at our young people’s health and information page

Family by the sea

Have your say on Northumberland’s Family Hubs

Northumberland’s Children’s Centres will relaunch as Family Hubs in Autumn 2022 and residents are being asked for their views to help shape the plans.

The Children’s Centres currently provide a wide range of support services for children aged 0-5 and their families. As Family Hubs, this support will be rolled out to all young people extending the age range to 0-19 and to 25 for anyone with additional needs.

The Hubs will be in the heart of their communities, with midwives, health visitors, early years and mental health professionals, youth workers, and a host of other services – including relationship, parenting, and financial advice – brought together into a one-stop-shop that meets the needs of family life for young people of all ages.

Family Hubs will build on lessons learned during the pandemic and will offer online and virtual services too, so that support can be accessible in the right way, and the right place, at the right time.


autistic children and mental health services

Mental health services and autistic children

Are NHS mental health services working for autistic children and young people?

We have been hearing from local families that some NHS mental health services aren’t working for them. To understand what is happening, we would like to hear about the experiences of as many autistic children and young people as we can. This includes children with a formal autism diagnosis, currently being assessed, or where there is an indication of autism. We want to know what is working well and what could be better.

Please tell us about your family’s experiences online, or by getting in touch in a way that suits you.

What you tell us will be included in a report to those who pay for and provide these services, along with recommendations of how services could be improved for children and young people. It will be anonymous and we will ensure you cannot be identified.

Read what Sarah, Ellie and Jennifer have to say and then tell us your story…

Parent Sarah says “For both of my children it took several years to get a diagnosis of ADHD and autism. Both have had issues with their mental health alongside their ADHD and autism. The delay in diagnosis impacted negatively on their mental health and both also experienced additional deterioration after Covid-19.

“Many different health and care services have been involved with my children, but these services are unfortunately not all joined up. Often referrals would be accepted for support but then discharged on the basis that other services were already involved or were better suited to provide support, care or treatment. When support has been received this is time-limited or specific to concerns at any one time leading to the process of needing to fight to seek help again later down the line.

“My children’s mental health difficulties have been seen as being ‘part of their autism’ rather than a separate condition that required treatment and help. This has led to difficulties and challenges getting the right support and most appropriate services involved for their mental health. Many people on the autistic spectrum have anxiety and mental health issues. This is not autism but the effect of having to adjust to the world around them and the many challenging situations they face.

“What has been most difficult is that every step of the way I have had to fight to get the right support my children need, challenging what we have previously been told and doing a lot of research ourselves. At times we felt we were not being listened to. It feels like we have had to become specialists in our own right, whilst also caring for children with additional needs that can be very challenging.”

Young person Ellie told us “The mental health professional I saw at the NHS didn’t seem to know very much about autism, so they didn’t realise that the appointments themselves were very stressful for me. I don’t think they always believed me when I said how bad I was feeling because on the surface I appeared to be okay.

“My mental distress at the time was extremely high and I was experiencing some very dark thoughts, but I didn’t feel listened to or understood. I would have liked to have had someone like my dad with me at the appointments but that wasn’t an option because they were held at school.

“My mental health has slowly improved since then but that’s because I started seeing someone privately who has experience of working with autistic people. I feel very lucky about this because I know not everyone would be able to afford it.”

Jennifer, whose child is autistic, says “The initial relief of my child being provided mental health support was quickly replaced by concern, as instead of getting better they got worse. A lack of knowledge and understanding about autistic presentation meant the therapist didn’t connect authentically with my child, who in turn felt invalidated by the whole experience.

“The number of sessions offered was limited and at the end of the programme I was shocked to find my child didn’t reach the threshold for further support. Instead, we were provided with a list of community-based support organisations and left to fend for ourselves. As a parent I now have a complete lack of confidence and trust in the NHS mental health system.”

Tell us YOUR story

Whether your child may be autistic, is currently being assessed or has a formal autism diagnosis, we’d like to hear their experiences of mental health services. We’d like to know what went well and what could have been better. Tell us your story online, or if you’d prefer to speak to one of our friendly team in confidence, please get in touch.

This piece of work has now closed.

Young People and Mental Health

Young people and mental health

Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for people who use health and social care services. We are a listening organisation working across Northumberland, interested in what people like about services and what can be improved. We act on what people are saying, sharing their views with those who have the power to make change happen. We also help people find the information they need about services in their area and record this as ‘signposting’.

Between January and March 2021 we ran an online survey to gauge the access and support received by young people (aged between 13 – 25 years) from mental health services in Northumberland.

We promoted the survey through our own social media channels and website as well as contacting all secondary and high schools in Northumberland. We also contacted all the local youth groups across the county and other relevant partners such as Northumberland CVA, the Aging Well Network and town and parish councils. The survey had 51 responses. Read our findings at the link below:

Young People and Mental Health: Experiences of access and support in Northumberland

Find mental health services and support

Kooth Q&A

Providing information about local health and care services is part of the core work of Healthwatch Northumberland, and mental health services for children and young people is one of our key priorities.

In June 2020 NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commissioned Kooth, a free online mental health support service for young people aged 11-25 years.

Watch this video to find out more.

We were therefore delighted to host an online seminar on 10 March 2021 with Malcolm Connelly, Engagement Lead at Kooth who told us about how the service works and how parents, carers and professionals can signpost young people to it.

Below are the questions from the audience and Malcolm’s answers which include links to the Kooth site and how to contact Malcolm for more information.

If you or a young person you know have used Kooth, we would like to hear about your experience. Share your feedback with us.


How can parents check the suitability of Kooth?

There are demos available to see what the site looks like from a user’s perspective however the content will look different depending on the age of the child. A demo can be arranged by emailing Malcolm Connelly ( There is also information on the Kooth website and Malcolm has put together a parents’ information letter.

Kooth follows strict safeguarding guidelines and young people will only speak to trained counsellors when using the platform. Any discussion is via pre-moderated threads.

How can I get resources to share to promote Kooth?

If you work for an organisation which supports children and young people, get in touch with Malcolm to add your details to his database of contacts. There are also A4 posters and wallet size cards available. Visit the Kooth Promotion Hub to find resources to promote Kooth.

Do you promote Kooth to schools and youth groups?

Yes, Malcolm does presentations in schools and for youth groups although it is more difficult at the moment with restrictions. Malcolm is currently only able to offer virtual presentations but is hoping to get back into schools later in the year.

What does Kooth mean?

During initial discussions about what to call the platform, a group of young people took the word ‘uncouth’ and flipped it to the more positive ‘Kooth’.

What is the adult equivalent of Kooth?

Qwell. This is currently only available to teachers and support staff in Northumberland.

Is there any data to show the positive impact that Kooth is having on young people and what are the recurring themes?

Monthly and quarterly reports are sent to the CCG which commissions Kooth, however these have to be requested and authorised for anyone else who would like to see them.

Is there any reason for Kooth starting at 11 years old?

This age was agreed with the CCG and is relevant as it is the start of secondary school. Around the age of 11 or 12 children are old enough to understand more and benefit from the support service. Gillick competency is assessed (more details here).

Is Kooth safe for autistic people?

Kooth is a safe space but we understand some young people may struggle with the text-based service and are constantly working to make Kooth fully accessible for all.

You mentioned face-to-face interventions. How does that work?

This is not currently available in the North East.

Are you getting into schools at the moment with the current restrictions?

Yes, but not as much as usual. Malcolm is hoping to get back into schools regularly by September.


Find out more about the support available for children and young people in Northumberland.

Mental health and young people

Time to Talk day takes place in February each year, a day which encourages the nation to get talking about mental health. One in four adults and one in eight young people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, which is why talking about mental health is so important. This year’s event might look a little different, but at times like this open conversations about mental health are more important than ever. A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.

In addition, Children’s Mental Health Week takes place 1 to 7 February and is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on children and young people’s mental health. We are supporting both campaigns and would love to hear from you about your experiences of health and social care in relation to mental health services. Whether you currently use or have used these services directly, or are a carer for someone who currently uses or has used these services, we would love to hear your feedback.

We would like to hear from young people aged 13 – 25 years, so that we can understand what is working well and what could be improved in mental health services. What you tell us could help make these services better for everyone in Northumberland.

Share your experiences of using mental health services

Mental Health Support 


Online event – mental wellbeing support for young people

Are you a parent, carer or someone who is looking for initial support for a child or young person’s mental wellbeing? Perhaps you work with young people and want ideas about what mental health support is available in Northumberland? Come along to our online event on Wednesday 10 March from 10.30am to 11.30am and find out more about Kooth, an online counselling and support service available to all young people aged 11-25 across Northumberland.

Kooth is a safe, confidential and anonymous way for young people to access wellbeing and mental health support through self-help resources and articles, peer support and discussion, and access to fully trained and qualified counsellors until 10pm each night, 365 days per year.

This event is an opportunity to hear more about Kooth from Northumberland’s Kooth Engagement Lead Malcolm Connelly who will give a short presentation and introduction to Kooth, what it involves, how to access it and what you can expect. There will be a Q&A session following the presentation.

Find out more about Kooth here.

If you would like to come along to the event please contact Helen Brown at:, or call 03332 408468 to register.

We would also like to hear from young people who are using or have used children’s mental health services in Northumberland so we can understand what is working well and what could be improved. You can share your views here.

Parents, carers and relatives of young people who have used services can also share feedback on our website.

Children and Young People’s Services

Are you a voluntary or community organisation working with young people? If so, we’d like you to join us for an open discussion on children and young peoples services, particularly around mental health services.

The forums will take place via Zoom. Read our guide on how to use Zoom.

If you would like to take part please contact Laura Kane:, or call 03332 408468.

Find out more about our other online forums