School uses text for confidential advice service

A text service has been opened in Hertfordshire to allow secondary school pupils the chance to seek confidential advice on health and wellbeing issues.

‘Chat Health’ was set up to provide pupils aged between 11 and 19 a chance to speak with qualified health professionals on issues that may be troubling them. As it’s all done remotely and not face-to-face, it’s hoped the scheme will encourage pupils who would otherwise have held back to instead come forward with their problems.

Texts sent to the service will be delivered to a secure website, whereupon a school nurse can then reply. It will run from 9:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday (including school holidays). Any messages sent outside of these hours will trigger a bounce-back message, explaining where a pupil can get support if they need it urgently.

Pupils can ask for advice on anything from getting and staying healthy to relationship, self-esteem and sexual health issues. Safeguarding measures have been put in place if school nurses think a pupil is at high risk from the issue they report.

Commenting on the scheme, specialist school health nurse, Lynda Edwards, told “The majority of young people in this age range own a mobile telephone and will find using it an easy way of communicating with a health professional if they do have any worries or concerns about their health or other issues that may be affecting them.

“We have already seen a number of students using the service to ask for confidential advice about health issues and if needed we can signpost to other areas of support that may be more appropriate.”