Self-Harm Network launches new digital portal

Self-Harm Network Scotland (SHNS) has launched a new online self-harm support service for people aged 12+ across Scotland. The new online service is in addition to its three existing locality-based services which recently opened up across Dundee, Glasgow and the Highlands and Islands. People can visit the online service here:

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.

People who experience self-harm will be able to access support via the portal and receive a response within 24 hours of the team receiving their details. From there, the team will provide and/or connect people to the most suitable ongoing support.

The portal 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.

The power of lived and living experience has helped to shape the portal from the beginning. An internal reference group was set up which consisted of people with lived experience, and practitioners and managers of self-harm services across Penumbra. Supported people were either present on these calls or gave feedback through their practitioners throughout the process of creating the portal.

Penumbra Mental Health is the largest employer of mental health peer workers in Scotland with 29% of its teams in peer support roles.

At SHNS, all of our peer practitioners have lived experience of self-harm. They bring an understanding of what people who live with self-harm might be experiencing, and will work with each person to find out what matters in their life and offer support to find healthier coping strategies.

Shona McBain, Senior Practitioner for the new self-harm portal service, tells us a bit about her background and what working for this new service means to her:

“I first found out about Penumbra Mental Health when I was 16 years old and received support from their Aberdeen self-harm support service. They helped me to understand where my self-harm was coming from, and that it was just my way of coping with other difficulties in my life. They gave me the space to work through what was going on in my life and I began to process a lot of what I hadn’t previously.

“I knew I wanted to help people in a similar way, and after going to college to study social sciences, I eventually ended up working for Penumbra at the same Aberdeen service I reached out to when I was just 16. Later on, I was invited to take part in the SHNS internal reference group for the portal and eventually landed the role as senior practitioner.

Self-harm isn’t something we should fear, but something we can better understand in order to support ourselves

“I think one thing that has struck me throughout this process is just how much the portal has been designed for the people using it, from the look and feel to the content itself. People with lived experience, like myself, have been involved from the beginning to ensure that the portal is as accessible and functional for as many people as possible.

“There are local self-harm support services dotted throughout Scotland, but the portal itself has been designed to fill the gap around self-harm support. Whatever area of Scotland you are based in, you can access support via the portal. Whether that be 1:1 support, or you’re just looking for some information and resources that you can undertake in your own time.

“We want to break the stigma around self-harm. By offering this online resource to both family/friends and professional’s working with someone who self-harms, we hope to give people the confidence to start talking about it. Self-harm isn’t something we should fear, but something we can better understand in order to support ourselves, loved ones and co-workers.”

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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.

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