Western Trust Text-A-Nurse programme expanded to include parents, carers and school staff
This builds on the existing service which has been available to children of this age themselves since 2021.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Department of Education initiative is delivered by School Nursing Teams across Northern Ireland and will now provide advice and guidance via a text messaging service to parents, carers and school staff on how to talk to 11 to 19-year-olds on sensitive topics such as emotional health and wellbeing, alcohol and drugs, sexual health, bullying and general health and wellbeing issues.
Messages can be sent anonymously and a qualified school nurse will respond using the secure ChatHealth web platform.
Emily Roberts, Nurse Consultant at the PHA, said: “The expansion of the Text-A-Nurse service will give parents, carers and school staff a valuable resource where they can get confidential professional advice about a range of issues affecting young people.
“They are among some of the most influential adults in a young person’s life, and at a time when young people have a lot going on in their lives and a lot of questions growing up, they will turn to these influential people. Text-A-Nurse can help to provide these care givers with any additional support they might need when it comes to talking to young people.”
Each Health and Social Care Trust area has a dedicated text number to reach the school nurse, and the service operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm in both term-time and school holidays. You are guaranteed a response within 24 hours Monday to Friday. If a faster response is needed, you will be advised of where you can get urgent help.
The service will be for advice for care givers to 11-19-year-olds only.
Mark Browne, Department of Education Permanent Secretary, said: “The roll out of the Text-A-Nurse service to parents, carers and school staff who may have a concern about the health and wellbeing of a young person and require some confidential, professional advice or help is most welcome. The existing Text-A-Nurse service is already providing this valuable resource directly to pupils.
“We are the first area in the United Kingdom to offer this valuable service to parents, carers and school staff, ensuring expert advice and support on a range of sensitive issues is available from a school nurse. I would encourage those parents, carers or school staff who may have concerns about a young person to use the Text-A-Nurse service in their area.”
Speaking about the expansion of the Text-A-Nurse programme for 11 to 19 year olds Irene McSorley, Lead Nurse for School Health at the Western Trust said: “We are delighted to support the PHA and EA initiative to see the expansion of the roll out of the successful Text-A-Nurse programme to include parents, carers and school staff who will be able to access professional nursing advice on young people’s health issues. The unique Text-A-Nurse number for the Western Trust is: 07312 277420 and our School Nursing Team will provide advice and support on a range of issues including emotional wellbeing; bullying and sexual health.”
Text-A-Nurse number for parents, carers and school staff:
Western Trust Text-A-Nurse: 07312 277420