NELFT launches a new Chat Health service for young people in Barking and Dagenham | News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway

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NELFT launches a new Chat Health service for young people in Barking and Dagenham

NELFT 0-19 Universal Children’s Services in Barking and Dagenham has launched a new service aimed at improving the mental health of 11-19 year olds in the borough.

Chat Health is a text messaging service, run in collaboration with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, which aims to allow young people 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.

Pupils will use the messaging service because it is:

• Easy to use

• Anonymous

• Non-judgemental

• Less embarrassing

The service allows young people in Barking and Dagenham to send text messages to a dedicated number (07520 632 503) which will be delivered to a secure website. Once there, texts will be responded to by the 0-19 Service, based at Thames View Health Centre, within one working day.

The service will be available Monday to Friday 9am–5pm. During out–of–hours, anyone who texts the service will receive an automated message with advice on where to get help if their question is urgent.

To find out more about the service, we spoke to, the Transformation Lead Health Visitor in Barking and Dagenham, Fola Akinmutande:

What is Chat Health?

This is text messaging service for young people in secondary school in Barking and Dagenham, which allows them to confidentially contact school nurses and ask for help on a variety of issues.

Why did we launch the service?

We launched the service in response to the local authority survey with young people over the summer period. From the survey, the young people requested an anonymous service that they felt they could contact the school nurse to discuss their stress situations, anxieties or health needs.

The service was launched on December 1st and the young people are aware that the service is now available.

What will be the benefits for young people?

There are a range of benefits:

  • Anonymous service young people can use 
  • An opportunity for young people to discuss any stress or anxieties or health matters
  • It is a safe and secure text messaging service
  • Young people can text to get health advice and support Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and get a response within 24 hours
  • Young people do not have to wait for a school drop in for health advice and support

Why do you think young people will access the service rather than going down traditional routes?

  • A high proportion of young people have a mobile phone that they can use to access healthcare if they need too
  • The service is Mon-Fri 9am-5pm - so it is available to all students every weekday

The traditional routes will still be available i.e. monthly basis for a face to face contact via drop in, as well as other school nursing services.

Do you think this will lead to more technology-based solutions for younger people?

As the society becomes more technology driven and young people are using technology in their day-to-day learning, technology-based solutions seem to be the way forward.

Thanks to Fola for speaking to us and we hope the service proves to be a success.