Text support service helps over 140 Rochdale young people

A text-based health advice service for secondary school children has supported over 140 young people in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR).

ChatHealthChatHealth is a text message service for 11 to 19 year olds, where they can text a concern or question and a school nurse is able to view it through a secure website and reply confidentially.

The initiative is delivered by the HMR School Nursing Service, part of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

In the first seven months, ChatHealth received 143 messages from young people looking to book an appointment, or get advice on issues such as bullying, emotional health and wellbeing, sexual health, alcohol and drugs and general illnesses.

ChatHealth was developed by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and it has been rolled out to a number of trusts across the country.  Nationally, the service has received over one million messages – which equates to approximately one in seven 11 to 19 year olds.

Feedback about ChatHealth highlights that it significantly increases the number of young people that can be reached.  It is also a helpful way to engage with teenagers who might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable speaking to a nurse face-to-face.

Nicola Sharp, HMR Professional Lead for School Health with Pennine Care, said: “ChatHealth is a valuable way for us to encourage young people to seek help as early as possible, to prevent an issue becoming worse.

“Feedback emphasises just how much young people appreciate confidential and discreet access to our services, like that available through ChatHealth.”

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

Messages are responded to within one working day.  All messages receive an automated reply, which provides advice about alternative support if their issue is urgent.

For more information about the HMR School Nursing Service and ChatHeath, visit: www.penninecare.nhs.uk/hmrschoolnursing