The Scottish Government has launched a strategy to tackle self-harm believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
Developed with those with experience of self-harm, it has been backed with an investment of £1.5m.
The Government said its three-year action plan with focus on tackling stigma and discrimination and improving support for people who have self-harmed – particularly those known to be at higher risk.
Funding will support a national webchat service, part of Self Harm Network Scotland, run by Penumbra, providing advice for anyone affected by self-harm.
‘One of the best parts of the whole service was having someone with lived experience like my peer practitioner by my side’
“I received support from Self-Harm Network Scotland after suffering with anxiety and depression following the birth of my daughter,” a woman from the Highlands said.
The mother-of-one, referred to as Michelle to protect her anonymity, said she used self-harm at the time to “cope with my feelings and emotions”.
“The support I received was amazing. One of the best parts of the whole service was having someone with lived experience like my peer practitioner by my side. They helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing.
“When I found out about the live chat launching, this filled me with confidence. I knew that I had the tools to cope that my peer practitioner had equipped me with, but also, that the chat was there if I was ever struggling and needed to talk to someone quickly.
“I want more people to be aware that the live chat and self-referral process are there if you need help.”
Professor Amy Chandler was the supervising academic on a study commissioned as part of the strategy development to consider what could be learned from those with lived experience of self-harm.
“Self-harm is often misunderstood, with those who self-harm all too often receiving inappropriate, dismissive, or even harmful responses,” she said.
“While many nations have suicide prevention strategies that include self-harm, this strategy is unique in addressing self-harm separately. This is important, because while self-harm and suicide can be related, this is not always the case.
“This strategy builds upon positive work in Scotland that has already begun, with commitment to working with, and being informed by, those who have lived and living experiences of self-harm.”
The webchat facility has been operating since October and is available to anyone aged over 12. It is open seven evenings a week and is run by peer practitioners and volunteers who offer support to those at the point of self-harming. Outwith webchat hours people can leave a message and will receive a call within 24 hours.
Help and support is available now if you need it. Details of services available can be found at stv.tv/advice
The Samaritans can be contacted any time, from any phone, free on 116 123, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Details of other services and more information can be found on the NHS website here.
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