Suffolk celebrates one year of ‘ChatHealth’ Service

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Suffolk’s School Nursing Team has been celebrating one year of ‘ChatHealth’, the School Nurse Text Messaging Service.

ChatHealth Service‘ChatHealth’ was introduced with the aim of allowing more people to access the School Nursing service as well as improving the efficiency of the service, to aid early intervention.

Young people in Suffolk can send messages to a dedicated number which delivers to a secure website.

Texts are responded to within one working day.

The service is available Monday to Friday 9am – 4.30pm excluding bank holidays.

Outside of these hours anyone who texts the service receives an automated message with advice on where to get help if their question is urgent.

School nurses can support children and young people with enquiries relating to a wide range of health and wellbeing issues including self-harm, bullying, drug and alcohol use, smoking, healthy eating, sexual health and mental health.

The text messaging service was first launched to secondary school aged pupils in November 2015 and extended to parents and carers of all pupils, including primary school aged pupils in April 2016.

The service has been positively received by staff, young people and clients, with over 3,000 messages sent and received within its first year.

The service has also received a lot of positive feedback in this first year, with 74% of conversations rated as 5 out of 5 by users. Users said they found the service useful because:

  • It is quick and easy to access
  • It is less embarrassing than other access points
  • They value being able to be anonymous
  • They found the confidentiality of the service important

Statistics from the last year show that the most popular types of enquiries have been emotional health and wellbeing with 39% of enquiries and physical health with 32%. Requests to see a school nurse accounted for 19% of messages sent.

The service has been used equally by parents and young people, with the majority of young people wishing to remain anonymous.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:

"We are extremely pleased with what the ‘ChatHealth’ service has achieved within its first year.

The service has been very well received by both its users and staff. It has made accessing the service much simpler, and as a result more people are using it than ever before.”

Councillor Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said:

“Text messaging allows young people to use the service in a way that meets their individual needs. This new way of working means that enquiries can be dealt with quicker, confidentially and anonymously if needed.

“The success of ‘ChatHealth’ in its first year has paved the way for further innovation into how this service and others may be developed in the future.”

To contact the School Nursing Service via ‘ChatHealth’, text 07507 333356.

Find out more about School Nursing Service.