Tomorrow is Blue Monday, known as the most depressing day of the year. The festive season is well and truly over, credit card bills are trickling in and taxes have to be paid by the end of the month.
Sadly, an increasing number of people feel blue not just for one day a year but for days, weeks and months at a time.
According to the NHS, one in four adults fall prey to some kind of mental health issue at least once a year, even before the pandemic.
Online help: Kooth’s mental health service
The numbers have risen since, not just among adults but among children and teenagers too, with current estimates suggesting that around 12 million people across the UK suffer from psychological problems at any given time in the year.
Kooth works with the NHS and other organisations to help sufferers from mental health issues.
Set up in 2001, Kooth provides treatment online, offering a completely anonymous service that includes written advice, peer-to-peer support and one-on-one chats with experienced counsellors.
The company joined AIM in September 2020 and the stock rose sharply before tailing off in recent months. The decline was unwarranted and the shares, at £3.19, should increase in price as the business expands.
Kooth’s number one customer is the NHS, which pays the group to offer digital services to mental health sufferers.
Originally set up for young people, Kooth has now signed contracts with 90 per cent of UK NHS trusts to help 10 to 25 year-olds suffering from problems including anxiety, self-harm and anorexia.
In recent years, the firm has added adult mental health services to its roster, recently signing contracts with NHS Trusts in Liverpool, Gloucestershire and Newcastle.
Chief executive Tim Barker has spearheaded a move into the business world as well, working with companies so they can offer digital treatments to employees who feel they need it.
Kooth services can be accessed instantly online (image posed by model)
Mental health issues cost businesses more than £40billion a year and they are the second biggest cause of staff absence (after back ache) so there is a big incentive for companies to help workers feel better.
Cost is a big issue in the public sector too. Physical counselling sessions are expensive and therapists are in short supply so NHS waiting lists run into millions. Enabling people to access help online saves huge amounts of money and, crucially, the services work.
Barker, a data expert, has reams of information showing that, in more than 70 per cent of cases, those who access Kooth feel better afterwards.
The data is useful in many other ways too, helping the NHS and business customers to spot trends, such as rising anxiety, and act on them.
Digital treatment may sound impersonal but, for many people, that is a real advantage, because the services are easy to use, free from stigma and instantly available.
A trading statement this Wednesday should prove reassuring. Brokers expect Kooth to deliver annual revenues of £16.7million for 2021, a 28 per cent increase over 2020, with further strong gains pencilled in for this year too.
Kooth is also forecast to move into profit this year and advance rapidly thereafter. Barker is highly ambitious, with a four-pronged growth strategy focused on working with increasing numbers of young people, winning more NHS contracts for adults, signing more corporate deals and expanding overseas, especially in the US.
Preliminary research suggests that Americans would be highly receptive to Kooth’s services, with mental health a growing problem there as it is here.
The company also benefits from being a pioneer in its sector, drawing on more than 20 years of experience to tailor treatments to best effect.
Midas verdict: The World Economic Forum forecasts that mental health issues will cost more than £4trillion by 2030. Kooth is tiny by comparison but its treatments provide a way to help people simply, swiftly and cost-effectively.
Like Stelrad, Kooth is a UK business at the forefront of its field and, like Stelrad, the group floated to turbocharge growth. At £3.19 the shares are a buy and investors can bask in the knowledge that they are supporting a good cause too.
Traded on: AIM Ticker: KOO Contact: koothplc.com or 020 3984 9337
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