Celebrating improved access to healthcare for more than a million young people

Published on 05/04/2017

There is cause for celebration this month as the number of young people able to access ChatHealth – the secure text messaging service run by school nurses – reaches one million, that’s one in seven 11-19 year olds.

ChatHealth is a web-based text messaging service, which young people of secondary school age can use to access confidential advice from a school nurse. It is now available through 30 organisations across the UK, including First Community Health and Care. ChatHealth was co-designed with both young people and school nurses to ensure that it effectively meets the needs of both young people and health professionals.

School nursing services adopting ChatHealth have found that it significantly increases the number of young people aged 11-19 that they can reach. It’s also a helpful way to engage with teenagers who might feel less comfortable speaking face to face with nurses about embarrassing or sensitive issues. For example, adolescent males are more likely to ask a question by sending a text message. Around one in five ChatHealth service users is male compared to one in ten attending school nurse clinics.

Young people report that they like ChatHealth, firstly because is a quick and easy way to get advice about their physical and emotional health, and secondly because they can do this anonymously. ChatHealth has clear safeguarding procedures in place in the event that young people disclose that they are at risk of harm.

Trudy Mills, Interim Director Business Development and Associate Director for Children's Services at First Community said: “ChatHealth is such a valuable tool because it makes it easier for us to reach and support vulnerable young people. All the feedback we receive emphasises how much young people appreciate confidential and discreet access to health professionals.”