Our School Nursing Team has launched a confidential text messaging service to give students across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) more access to support.
The number for ChatHealth is 07312 263093 and the service is open to young people aged 11-19.
Students can text our School Nurses to seek support on a range of topics including mental health, bullying, relationships, healthy eating, body image, drugs and alcohol and self-harm.
The service, which will complement the existing School Nursing service, will be open Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm during term time and school holidays, excluding bank holidays.
Julie Sharma, Sirona’s Acting Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to be launching 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.”
ChatHealth enables safe and secure messaging between healthcare professionals and service users. It is an anonymous and confidential service although service users can be identified if a young person is at risk of significant harm.
It was first set by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust in 2013 after feedback from service users found some young people felt less comfortable accessing support face-to-face and would rather use something anonymous and confidential.
ChatHealth is now used by more than 53 organisations in the UK, giving 2 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.
Katy Green, School Health Nursing lead for Sirona care & health, said: “ChatHealth will enable us to expand our service, with the same amount of staff, and support more young people in a safe way which is more convenient for them. Young people can access the service from their own homes, rather than coming in to school to see a nurse, and it will also be running during the school holidays.
“Students don’t have to tell us their name if they don’t want to, which we 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 be launching this service and we hope it will boost our current provision and increase our reach across BNSSG.”
ChatHealth has been funded by the local authorities in BNSSG. It is being run by the Community Children’s Health Partnership (CCHP), which is led by Sirona care & health and partners. For more information, visit our ChatHealth page.