Text a school nurse service launched for children to get help and advice
A NEW service enabling children and young people aged from 11 to 19 to text a school nurse for advice has been launched.
The ChatHealth messaging service allows children who may not feel comfortable discussing issues face-to-face to receive confidential help on issues from mental health and relationships, to bullying, self-harm and exam stress.
The service is being run across the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area by the Community Children’s Health Partnership, led by Sirona Care & Health, and is funded by local councils.
In its first four days it received more than 70 messages.
The ChatHealth line is open from 9am-5pm during term time and school holidays, excluding bank holidays, and can be reached by texting 07312 263093.
A school nurse will respond within 24 hours.
ChatHealth, which has been funded by local authorities across BNSSG, is running alongside the existing school nursing service with the aim of reaching even more young people.
Sirona acting chief executive Julie Sharma said: "ChatHealth will improve the reach, timeliness and efficiency of our services and it is more age appropriate for young people.
"They can contact one of our School Nurses in a matter of seconds by sending a text, rather than waiting to see a health care professional or being referred, so it is quick and easy for them to access the support they need.”
ChatHealth enables people to safely and securely messaging healthcare professionals.
Sirona says it is an anonymous and confidential service although service users can be identified if there is a significant risk of harm.
It is now used by more than 53 organisations in the UK, giving two million young people access to the service.
School nurses in these areas have found they have four times as many contacts through ChatHealth than face-to-face clinics.
Sirona school nursing lead for care and health Katy Green said: “ChatHealth will enable us to expand our service, with the same number of staff, and support more young people in a way which is more convenient for them. Young people can access the service from their own homes, rather than coming into school to see a nurse, and it will also be running during the school holidays.
“Students can remain anonymous if they’d prefer, which I hope will encourage more people to get in touch with us, especially those who don’t feel comfortable talking to us face-to-face.
"We are very excited to launch this service and we hope it will boost our current provision and increase our reach across BNSSG.”
Pictured: School nurses who are answering health questions by text