Live chat support for self-harm launches nationwide

Self-Harm Network Scotland (SHNS) are announcing the launch of their new live chat service; available to anyone aged 12 + across Scotland who needs support with their self-harm. This new service is in addition to its online portal which launched on Self-harm Awareness Day 2023.

The SHNS service is operated by Penumbra Mental Health, a pioneering charity providing dedicated services for people with mild to serious enduring mental ill health.

SHNS is funded by the Scottish government.

The live chat, which can be found on the online portal, will be available every day between the hours of 6pm-10pm from Tuesday 10th October 2023. The live chat was created to provide a support service outside of normal working hours, when those experiencing self-harm may be at their most vulnerable.

The live chat is a new addition to the portal, which was created to provide recovery-focussed support, tools and information that anyone can access to enable people to support themselves and others. This includes sections for those who self-harm, people supporting someone who self-harms, and professionals working with someone who self-harms. Additionally, you will still be able to self-refer onto the service via an online form outside of the live chat operating ours.

This next step will allow people anywhere in Scotland to get immediate support from one of the trained volunteers or peer practitioners. They can offer a listening ear, guidance and support when it’s needed most. Penumbra Mental Health is the largest employer of mental health peer workers in Scotland with 26% of its teams in peer support roles.

SHNS hopes that this service will reach people in their time of need, get them to where they need to be, keeping them safe and well on their journey to recovery.

Maree Todd, Mental Wellbeing Minister,

“I am pleased that our funding has enabled Penumbra to develop new ways of supporting those affected by self-harm. It is vital that help and support is available in different forms so we can reach people of all ages who may be at risk, and this new service will be key in helping us reach even more people.”

Shona McBain, Senior Peer Practitioner, Self-harm Network Scotland,

“Through the live chat, you will still receive that emotional peer connection that you receive through all our other services. You will either be connected with one of our peer practitioners or trained volunteers, many of whom have their own lived experience of self-harm. The difference with this service is that there is no requirement to agree to ongoing support. Our team will meet you at whatever stage you are at in your self-harm journey, and provide you with support that is tailored to your own needs. This might be a one-off conversation, or we may refer you to ongoing support if you wish.”


They helped me understand that I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing

Meghan Drysdale, Service Manager, Self-harm Network Scotland,

“Since SHNS’ infancy, the service has continued to grow and adapt to meet the needs of people across Scotland and raise awareness of self-harm. Our team of practitioners exemplifies their unwavering commitment to working with those who engage in self-harming, and this is driven by genuine enthusiasm for supporting others. Every member of our team brings a unique blend of passion and expertise, and this has allowed our service to grow and work so well to reach those in need. The addition of the live chat allows us to continue to reach more and more people in need of support. It reduces barriers and allows anonymity for those who aren’t ready to be known.”

Supported Person, Self-Harm Network Scotland,

“I received support from Self-Harm Network Scotland after suffering with anxiety and depression following the birth of my daughter. I 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.

I had 15 sessions in total and I was initially worried about them coming to an end. 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.”

The live chat is available on Self-Harm Network Scotland’s website:

Welcome to our online self-referral form. Please complete as much of this form as possible. Once we receive your form, we aim to respond within 72 hours. Thank you.

Please complete Section A (details of the person you are referring) and Section B (your own details as the referrer)

Once we have your form, our team will aim to contact the person you’re referring within 72 hours. Thank you.

How can we help you?

Thank you for considering leaving a gift in your Will.

To receive further information about the process and to find out how your gift could be used, please complete and return the form below. Thank you.

Please give us as much information as you can. Once we have your form, our team will aim to contact you within 72 hours. Thank you.

Privacy and data policy. This site can collect anonymous and identifiable personal data. Read our privacy and data policy on how to browse the site anonymously, otherwise click the button to accept anonymous data collection. We will ask your consent when we need to collect identifiable data. Our Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy


We will do the right thing. Standing up for people, their rights, wellbeing and recovery


We listen and respond with hope, kindness and respect.


We explore, reflect, learn and adapt to create solutions that are best for people’s wellbeing.


We will work with those who share our vision and values.