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NHS Chat Health

NHS Chat Health

The school nursing service has recently introduced a new way for children and young people to contact them with any problems they may wish to discuss.

Chat Health is an award-winning text-messaging service for people in education aged 11-19 years. It is an accessible way for young people to get advice and support about health related issues.
Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is always seeking ways of improving the service that they provide, and they became aware of the Chat Health service after attending a professional conference last year.

School nurses who are qualified nurses with training to support the health needs of children and young people decided to make the Chat Health service available in Brighton and Hove and West Sussex.

School nurses are aware that more and more young people use mobile phone devices to administrate their daily lives. So they wanted to use that medium that was familiar to young people for them to contact their school nurses with any questions or advice. As well as this service, school nurses still visit schools where there is an opportunity for young people to talk to them face to face if they so wish.


The help that is provided ranges from medical and health concerns, sexual health, emotional health and wellbeing, bullying and relationships, healthy eating and any other general concerns.
Sometimes it can be embarrassing for a young person to seek the help of a health professional in a school and by using the confidential texting service it allows them to stay anonymous.

Chat Health went live on April 11 this year, and the service has been a huge success so far. In the first five weeks, the team received, and replied to, six hundred and fifteen messages from students across West Sussex.

According to the Office for National Statistics almost one in five young people suffers from anxiety and depression in the UK. There are many different causes of mental health problems, and they are often complex and not necessarily attributable to one particular cause.

However, seeking help and advice can be the first step towards feeling good and confident. The school nurses are very well equipped to support people with emotional health difficulties and can provide the appropriate advice and can signpost to other suitable services if they feel that this is necessary.

Chat Health has been promoted widely throughout West Sussex, including school assemblies, posters and leaflets. At present, a text message will be charged at the rate of your current network provider.

However, there are plans to create a Chat Health smartphone app that will enable young people to send instant messages within their existing data plan at no additional cost.

Combining the use of a medium such as text messaging with the skills of school nursing staff is an innovative way to meet the mental and physical health needs of young people.

The contact number for West Sussex is 07480 635424 and young people can message the service at any time, and the message will be read and answered by a school nurse between Monday and Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

By Georgia Lambert

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