New text service to improve young people’s health

Young people in Rochdale can now get easier access to health advice thanks to a new text-messaging service.

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) School Nursing Service, part of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, will be launching the ChatHealth service for young people aged 11 to 19 years on 23 May.

Those who attend school in Heywood, Middleton or Rochdale, or live in the borough, can access the service by texting their concern or question to 07507330382.

ChatHealth is an award-winning initiative, developed by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm, throughout the year excluding bank holidays.

Young people will be able to send a text message to book an appointment, or get confidential advice on issues such as bullying, emotional health and wellbeing, sexual health, alcohol and drugs, and general illnesses.

Messages sent to the ChatHealth number are delivered to a secure website and will be responded to by a HMR school nurse within one working day. Texts to the service outside of working hours will receive an automated message which provides advice about where to get alternative support if the issue is urgent.

The service has been well received in other areas of the country where it has been rolled out, with young people saying they like it because it’s less embarrassing, quick and easy, anonymous and non-judgemental.

Nicola Sharp, HMR Professional Lead for School Health with Pennine Care, said: “Many young people will have access to their own mobile phone, so now it will be easy for them to access our services and get help and advice as early as possible.

“It will also make it more likely for young people to seek confidential help, in an informal, non-judgemental manner using young person friendly technology.

“We are hoping ChatHealth will be a pivotal step in improving the health and wellbeing of our young people as a whole across the borough.”

Jimmy Endicott, ChatHealth representative with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be working with school nurses to bring ChatHealth to young people in Rochdale.

“Teenagers often say to us they sometimes feel much more confident or comfortable talking about difficult and sensitive issues if they can do it by sending a text message.  So we’re really confident this new service will help a lot in delivering the highest quality NHS care for 11-19 year olds.”  

School nurses will be visiting schools in the borough around the launch date to share information and promote the service.

A secure mobile app will also be introduced later this year, so students can speak with a nurse by instant message after logging-in with a username and password.

Click here for a copy of the leaflet.