A new Text-a-Nurse service has been launched to provide young people with a secure and confidential text messaging service to a school nurse for advice and support.
The service is aimed at 11 to 19 year olds and will be delivered by the School Nursing Teams.
Welcoming the new initiative Education Minister, Peter Weir said: “The emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people has never been more important. This new service will allow young people to seek advice about sensitive health issues without a face to face appointment. School nurses will provide help on a range of issues including, emotional health and wellbeing, alcohol and drugs, sexual health, bullying and general health issues.
“During these difficult times when many children and young people have suffered from being out of an education setting for prolonged periods of time, it is more important than ever that they know they can talk to someone confidentially about their concerns.”
The initiative is one of a range of resources to support the implementation of the Framework for Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education.
Health Minister, Robin Swann said: “School nurses play a key role in working across education and health, and providing a link between school, home and the community. Their aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people, and during these uncertain times Text-a-Nurse provides a safe way for young people to reach out for help and to discuss their concerns.
“This service offers a way for young people to anonymously access health related advice, information and guidance at the touch of a button from a specially trained nurse.”
Emily Roberts, Safeguarding Nurse Consultant, Public Health Agency said; “Asking for help or advice via text message is less embarrassing than asking in person. We hope through this non-judgemental, confidential text service young people will be empowered to ask those questions that they otherwise wouldn’t have the confidence to ask.
“A qualified school nurse will respond to the young people’s messages using the secure ChatHealth web platform. ChatHealth is an award winning service in the UK and is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and will transform the way young people communicate with health professionals.”