A new text messaging service is encouraging young people across Northumberland to discuss their health concerns in confidence.
Aimed at 11-to-19-year-olds, Chat Health enables them to text their school nurse, in confidence, for advice and support.
The service deals with all kinds of issues – including mental health, bullying, alcohol and drugs, relationships, healthy eating and smoking.
The system for secondary, middle and high schools in the county is secure, with all messages coming in to one place where they are monitored by a small team of trained school nurses.
They then triage and answer all messages, with an automated message being sent if a text has been received out-of-hours.
The nurses can also signpost the young person on to other appropriate health care services, if necessary, or offer to see the young person face-to-face.
Veronica Hetherington, community matron at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This service allows young people to talk anonymously about difficult and sensitive issues that they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in person.
“It complements the face-to-face care that we already provide, but it’s broadening their access to healthcare and allowing us to engage with many more young people who may need our support.
“This is about safer outcomes for children and young people and this service allows us to ensure that they are receiving age appropriate advice in a safe environment.”
School students in Northumberland who would like to discuss concerns with a school nurse can text the Chat Health service on 07507 332258.