“You never ignore a Confed email”
Zoë Blake is CEO of XenZone, an innovator in digital mental health delivering online counselling and support to children, young people (CYP) and adults
“I joined XenZone having spent the last 20+ years working in the technology sector. I had no experience of working in mental health, but my Mum was a psychiatric nurse which influenced my decision to study psychology at university. Coming in to run XenZone has been a perfect marriage of personal interest and professional experience.
“From my early career working in telecoms, through the dot.com years, into software and big data, it’s how technology can be used to enable people that interests me. Using it to help people is the most appealing aspect of my role.
“As I had joined an established business I was able to absorb knowledge from all the great people here, including our visionary Founder and Chair, Elaine Bousfield. What I’ve gained from the Mental Health Network is a policy viewpoint. I really value the communications sent out, which help to navigate and distil the challenges that are being faced across the sector.
“I had no preconceptions of the MHN. I was aware of what the network was doing but wasn’t sure how XenZone would fit and how we might engage being a digital provider and from the independent sector.
“I’m happy to say that the issues I might have imagined have not arisen; people have been curious about what we do and have been keen to talk to us. I’ve had interesting conversations with highly experienced people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.
“I have really enjoyed the MHN events and found the dinners extremely valuable. In our business we can sometimes be quite insular but through membership we’ve been able to build some fantastic working relationships. Sharing an evening with a leader of a housing association, for example, or being able to compare different leadership styles and organisational contexts to solve problems together is incredibly valuable.
“It is always worthwhile taking time out to go to the MHN conference. The calibre of speakers and attendees is high and people are well-informed and comfortable with speaking candidly about the issues they are facing. This year, I particularly enjoyed hearing from Andy Bell on the economics of mental health.
“It was Sean who suggested we join the network and he is a great champion for it. He is always welcoming and clearly has a real interest in finding and brokering conversations between likeminded individuals. His proactive introductions and personal focus on the membership is fantastic. As a result we are now a part of this group where everyone is looking to build relationships to improve and drive things forward.
“I would definitely recommend MHN membership to others. I don’t think there is any other way to be in those rooms to have the sorts of conversations we’ve been having. Our membership has been a unique source of insight - you never ignore a Confed email – and we are looking forward to increasing our participation.”
Established over 16 years ago, XenZone has delivered over 110,000 hours of online counselling and support. Its Kooth online counselling service, for children and young people, is commissioned in over 1 in 3 CCG areas across the country. For over 18s, Qwell helps meet the requirements of the Preventative Agenda. Both services complement existing face-to-face provision, with accessible support till 10pm 7 days a week, and clear pathways for referral into other services.
Kooth and Qwell are easy to deploy, highly scalable early intervention services wholly operated by experienced, trained staff. Staff are constantly supervised and work within a strong culture of clinical governance and safeguarding. The ethos for service provision is person-centric. Practitioners are trained in a variety of evidence-based techniques including CBT, DBT and a range of psychotherapy approaches. They are skilled to deploy the intervention most appropriate to an individual’s needs. Commissioners receive detailed reports which can be used towards MHSDS access targets.
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