A new service for young people in the Western Isles was officially launched by NHS Western Isles on September 1. Cool2talk is an interactive website for young people, developed and hosted by NHS Tayside. The site was launched this month in the Western Isles as part of a partnership between the two health boards.
The website - http://www.cool2talk.org/ - offers confidential health advice and information online from trained health professionals, to young people. It is being run as a six-month pilot as part of an agreement with NHS Tayside.
NHS Western Isles has raised awareness of the new website amongst local schools over the past few months, distributing promotional items such as pens and pencils, which include the new website address, to young people. The local Comhairle supported this work by facilitating direct access to school pupils to get the important information across.
Workshops are also being held for health and social care staff in the Western Isles to ensure they are aware of the site and understand the service it provides.
The funding for the pilot has been provided from the NHS Western Isles Young Carers Group, and there will be a specific part of the site for young carers.
Mike Sullivan, NHS Western Isles Community Mental Health Worker (Children and Young People) said: “Through the new website, young people can confidentially ask trained health professionals questions about any health issues they may be concerned about. The website offers reassurance, encouragement, information and advice on health related issues as well as signposting to appropriate services. The questions asked by young people will also provide a resource for young people’s workers to get any idea of current issues that concern young people.”
The target audience of the website is young people aged between 12 and 18, though it is available to all young people. Young people can post a question on to the site and get an answer from health staff employed by NHS Tayside within 24 hours, 365 days a year. When accessing the site, young people will be asked to give quantifiable data e.g. age, sex and the first part of their postcode. Through this data, an overall view of the usage of the site can be gathered, whilst maintaining confidentiality.
The service is staffed by health professionals with experience in family planning, drugs/alcohol, relationship issues and a wide range of other physical and mental health issues.
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