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Southampton man creates mental health support service for young people

THE FOUNDER of a “unique” peer-to-peer support service for young people says it is needed in the UK.

Josh Towers created Teenage Helpline in 2020 after offering support similar to that of an agony aunt to people during his teenage years.

The 24-year-old from Southampton struggled with his mental health and coming to terms with his sexuality aged 14. After receiving help himself he decided to fill a gap in the market.

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Josh said: “There were lots of different avenues for me but at the time I felt like I didn’t want to speak to an adult.

“I realised I wanted somebody my own age to talk to, and I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like that.”

Josh, along with a few friends, created the foundation of Teenage Helpline by offering support over email.

Daily Echo: Josh TowersJosh Towers

But university and work commitments meant the grassroots support service was put on hold – until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The service is entirely volunteer run, with more than100 volunteers supporting fellow young people.

Teenage Helpline supported 113 young people in its first official year and has already supported over 200 people this year alone.

Josh said: “We are now receiving daily cases, so we are obviously trusted, with 54 per cent of our cases relating to mental health.

“The fact we have managed to gain so much traction in such a small space of time is a big indication of how little support is available and how much it is needed.

“We want to avoid people getting to crisis points and we feel there is not enough support for young people.

“I know I am biased, but I definitely think services like ours are needed, where young people help young people.”

Teenage Helpline supports young people aged up to 25 and further information can be found here teenagehelpline.org.uk

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