Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) has received additional funding to continue with its ChatHealth service after the success of the initial roll-out.
The health board's Youth Liaison Team, in collaboration with school nursing teams, launched the text-based service across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire earlier this year to support young people aged 11-19.
The success of the roll-out has led to additional funding being received from the health board. It will also allow the service to be extended to include those aged up to 25 years.
ChatHealth allows young people to text a helpline and get confidential support from a team of qualified nurses. The service can support young people with a range of issues, from emotional health and wellbeing, including anxiety, anger, low mood and panic attacks, to relationships, self-harm, bullying, sexual health, and alcohol, smoking and drugs
Judith Thomas, Youth Liaison Nurse at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Young people have messaged ChatHealth seeking advice for a range of issues from physical conditions, medical advice to emotional support.
“Our aim is to provide an equitable service for young people to improve health access and outcomes. An increase in contact will provide opportunities to make every contact count whether that is text advice, online resources or face to face contact.
“Young people are often reluctant or embarrassed about getting advice. By using a communication tool with which they are comfortable and familiar, coupled with the anonymity, it will remove those barriers for them.
“With the impact of COVID-19 we are expecting to see a rise in young people needing emotional support and this is the perfect platform for the “missing middle”- young people that don’t meet Child and Adolescence Mental Health Service (CAHMS) criteria and yet need support.”
Working alongside NHS Direct Wales, the 111 service in Wales will now be directing young people across West Wales to the ChatHealth service.