School nurses launch confidential text service for youngsters
- Credit: Paul Stallard
North Somerset school nurses have launched a confidential texting service designed for students aged from 11 to 19 to pose health questions discretely.
ChatHealth enables young people, aged 11-19, to text a school nurse for advice on a range of issues, from mental health and relationships, to bullying, self-harm and exam stress.
The service was launched by the Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP), which is led by Sirona Care and Health, with funding provided by councils across the South West.
Clevedon School has praised ChatHealth, citing it as another way to break down barriers and become more in tune with issues students face.
Headteacher, Jim Smith commented: “With the growing number of young people needing support, we are delighted the school nursing team have expanded their service to launch ChatHealth and make it accessible for more young people.”
Within hours of its launch, the service was flooded with messages from youngsters, which are typically replied to within 24 hours.
Texts are sent anonymously although students can be identified if there is a significant risk of harm.
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Julie Sharma, Sirona’s Acting Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have launched our ChatHealth service, which will enable our School Nurses to reach more young people, including those who may not feel comfortable accessing face-to-face support.
“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.”
Elsewhere, Weston's Priory Community School has also hailed the service for its accessibility.
A spokesperson said: "We welcome the launch of ChatHealth which should serve to be an excellent additional confidential service for students to access support.”
The ChatHealth line is open from 9am-5pm during term time and school holidays, excluding bank holidays.
To get in touch, text 07312 263093.