Around 13% of 11 to 16 year olds hurt themselves. Some experts claim that self-harming may have doubled over the last decade. And with only 1,200 school nurses for 200,000 schools – help can be hard to access.
ChatHealth was designed to tackle this problem and support the national suicide prevention strategy. It was co-designed with school nurses and young people, who imagined pupils sending texts, which arrive with school nurses through a secure digital system that enables them to respond with professional advice while offering a range of risk management features. Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust worked with a third party software developer to turn that vision into a reality.
To be really secure, the next step was to enable young people to send messages through a password-protected app on their phone, rather than by SMS.
IE was commissioned to design the look and feel of a mobile optimised, instant messaging app. The added security provided by a bespoke app is critical to the majority of users who want to remain anonymous.
The app is location enabled and allows users to search for local services, so they can more easily gain access to specialist advice and relevant expertise.
The award-winning ChatHealth service and app has been rolled out across many regions of the country, supporting young people from as far afield as Suffolk, Sussex and the Pennines. It also goes far beyond its original remit, with nurses responding to questions on a wide range of health issues, from mental health and self-harming to sex, drugs, alcohol and more.