Confidential text message service launched for young people
ChatHealth is for young people (aged 11-19) to confidentially ask for help about a range of issues, or make an appointment with a school nurse. They can also find out how to access other local services including emotional support or sexual health services.
The award-winning messaging service was created by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, who liaised with school staff, parents, governors, clinical leads, school nurses and safeguarding leads to develop guidance and test to ensure its safety. The approach to safeguarding young people and their personal information is robustly governed. Other organisations such as the police, NSPCC and the Royal College of Nursing were also extensively consulted.
ChatHealth is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm. Young people can send a text anonymously to a dedicated number – 07507 331450 – from any type of mobile phone. Texts are delivered to a secure website and responded to by Bedfordshire Community Health Services’ school nurses. Out of hours, anyone who texts the service receives a bounce back message explaining where to get help if their question is urgent, and when they can expect a response. Texts are usually replied to within one working day.
Is the service free?
Yes the service is provided free of charge. Any SMS messages sent whilst using the service may incur the usual network provider charge.
Our school/college has a ‘no phones’ policy. Can our students use the service?
Yes, young people are encouraged to respect school phone use policies and use the service before or after school.
Is the service confidential?
Parents, teachers or anyone else are not usually informed if a young person contacts ChatHealth. If there are concerns about safety there is a process in place to escalate concerns and attempts will be made to consult with the young person before doing so.
Is information stored?
All messages are securely recorded and can be seen by other healthcare staff who follow NHS confidentiality rules.