A dedicated self-harm strategy and action plan has been published by the Scottish Government, owned jointly with Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) , which aims for anyone affected by self-harm, to receive compassionate support, without fear of stigma or discrimination.
The vision of the Strategy is to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, prevent mental health issues occurring or escalating, and provide mental health and wellbeing support and care. The three priority areas for the action plan are for compassionate understanding, support and services, and data and evidence. It is being backed by new investment from the Scottish Government of £1.5 million.
The strategy – developed jointly COSLA and informed by people with lived experience – is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It includes a three-year action plan which will prioritise tackling stigma and discrimination and improving support for people who have self-harmed – particularly those known to be at higher risk. The plan focuses on three areas:
- deepening knowledge and compassionate understanding of self-harm
- building support and services across Scotland
- improving and sharing data and evidence
As part of the strategy, the Scottish Government funding supports a national webchat service offering people help out-of-hours. The webchat service is part of Self Harm Network Scotland, run by Penumbra, which also provides up-to-date, reliable and accessible advice for anyone affected by self-harm. It also offers free training sessions – either in-person or online – which have been completed by 1000 people since the start of the year.
Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said: “We believe that any person who has self-harmed or is thinking about self-harming should receive compassionate support with a focus on recovery, without fear of stigma or discrimination. The way in which people seek support and discuss self-harm is changing with many going online for help, so the webchat service being offered by Penumbra is very welcome. This work is also helping to build our understanding about self-harm and the most helpful interventions so that we can continue to improve the services on offer.”
COSLA Health and Social Care spokesperson Councillor Paul Kelly said: “Self-harm can be a difficult issue, both for those experiencing it and those who support them. We welcome this strategy which seeks to build knowledge and confidence in responding to self-harm across a range of settings, ensuring more people receive the effective and compassionate response they need. We look forward to continuing to work collectively across, and beyond government to support its progress.”
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