Living Well UK - the West Midlands’ leading consortium of mental health charities and service providers​ - has 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.

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 & wellbeing support in relation to worries or anxiety around coronavirus, Living Well UK and its partners, Mind Birmingham and NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, have already taken over 1,000 calls in the last four weeks.

Chat Box users will be asked a few routine questions by the therapist to whom they speak. Specialists can then offer advice and support via the chat, before signposting relevant services to address 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.

Speaking about the new tech-led offering, Living Well UK’s CEO, Ben Howells, said: “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 felt anxious about taking calls, we know that our crisis phonelines 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 the 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.

“With the current climate as it is, we feel there was no more pressing time to debut 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 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." 

For more information on Living Well UK and its latest service, visit livingwellconsortium.com