Chat Health nurses crowned national winners in the 2020 Nursing Times Awards

Nursing Times Award logoSchool nurses from Children and Family Health Surrey are joining celebrations for the recent Nursing Times Award win for the innovative text messaging service for young people, Chat Health, in the ‘Nursing in Mental Health’ category.

Chat Health is a text service enabling young people at secondary school to reach out to a school nurse to ask for help about a range of issues, or make an appointment with one a school nurse confidentially.

The Children and Family Health Surrey Chat Health service is for anyone aged 11-19, at secondary school in Surrey, looking for confidential advice on a wide range of issues such as bullying, emotional health and wellbeing, sexual health as well as illnesses.

The Chat Health text number is: 07507 329 951 and operates Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm (excluding bank holidays).

Evidence has shown that young people in particular like the fact that Chat Health enables them to make discreet contact with health professionals ‘behind a screen’ while busy parents value its convenience. Following a Chat Health conversation, one young person commented: “I love that it’s anonymous and that it’s a texting service. That means you can openly talk about your problems freely without feeling nervous.”

Chris McDermott, Children and Family Health Surrey Professional Lead for School Nursing said, “I’m so proud of all our school nurses for the support they provide to the young people of Surrey through Chat Health. This Nursing Times Award is fantastic national recognition for each and every school nurse and the difference they make to the lives of our young people.”

Developed and supported by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust in 2013, Chat Health has been implemented by more than 50 NHS Trusts and healthcare organisations across the country for use across a variety of healthcare services.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Nursing Times Award, which this year took place in a free, virtual ceremony broadcast live online. The event was hosted by Nursing Times editor, Steve Ford and BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty who revealed the winners of 23 categories to celebrate the different specialities and settings in the nursing community.

Nursing Times editor Steve Ford said: “The annual Nursing Times Awards showcase the innovation and best practice of nurses and midwives across the UK, providing an opportunity to celebrate and share all that is good about the nursing profession. I think it’s safe to say that these awards for 2020 are even more special in a number of ways.”

Chat Health was selected from a category of 11 fantastic entries in the Nursing in Mental Health category. Judges praised the fact that Chat Health provided an innovative solution to accessing mental health support, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. They felt it had a great reach, and liked the fact that it gave coverage to social issues as well as mental health support. They were particularly impressed by the robustness of the evaluation and the evidence supporting the initiative.

virtual award ceremonyAccepting the award on behalf of the 2,000-strong community of Chat Health nurses, clinical lead, Caroline Palmer, said: “This award is not just for the Chat Health team in Leicestershire, but for all the teams across the country. Chat Health nurses offer mental health and wellbeing support day in and day out, and it’s wonderful for them to be recognised in this way.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a big impact on usage, and demand for Chat Health text services has massively increased in recent months with as many implementations going live in the last six months as there was in the whole previous year.”