"Self-harm often occurs at times of great psychological distress, so it's nice to see that there is help out there in the form of this new app. I like that it's sensitive, easy to navigate, and promotes emotional wellbeing no matter where you are in your journey."
(L.T., Public Contributor with personal experience of self-harm)
Concerned about self-harming? Feeling suicidal? Not sure what to do next? The FREE distrACT app gives you discreet access to information and advice on how you can manage difficult feelings, cope with a crisis and find help and support when you need it most.
If you self-harm, you're not alone. Around 1 in 4 young women and 1 in 10 young men in the UK under 16 have self-harmed at some point in their lives.
In the UK, 200,000 people are being seen in hospital emergency departments every year for problems to do with self-harm.
People who self-harm are also 35 times more likely to end their own lives.
Why we developed distrACT
Both from personal experience and from our professionals lives we know that many people who self-harm keep it a secret and don't seek help, perhaps because they feel ashamed, don't want to be judged, or see it as a private coping strategy for dealing with otherwise unbearable tension or guilt.
So we've created the distrACT app to:
- make it really easy for you to access reliable health information about self-harm on-the-go - 24/7, in total privacy and in one single place
- provide you with information you can trust because it's written by NHS doctors with input from users and experts in self-harm and suicide
- signpost you to the best and most reliable other sources of information (which can often be difficult to find) and where to go for further advice and support
"I think the app can help people to understand why they're using self-injury and then they're better equipped to talk to someone in 'real life'. It's something that's discreet, private and you can access at any time and that's what people who contact our services tell us they want."
(Naomi Salisbury, Director of UK charity Self-Injury Support)
How may the app benefit you?
We hope that using the app may benefit you in different ways:
- SUICIDE PREVENTION: Reduce the risk of you taking your own life if you self-harm and feel suicidal
- CRISIS SUPPORT: Support you in a crisis - with advice on what to do in an emergency, lists of useful emergency numbers and support sites, and tips on safety planning
- SIGNPOSTING: Guide you to further sources of support that you can trust
- SELF-CARE: Find out how you can manage your thoughts and feelings and discover safer alternatives to self-harm
- RESILIENCE: Develop skills to recover more quickly and increase your well-being
- ACCESSING HEALTH SERVICES: Help you decide when to access health services and where to go for support
"The distrACT app is a safe alternative to put in people's hands. So if they're thinking about self-harm or have self-harmed they can have a resource at their fingertips"
(Dr Dominique Thompson, Student Mental Health Expert and GP)
What can you find in the app?
Open the app and simply tap on any of the following 6 sections:
- LOCAL INFO: Access links to local sources of support (currently this service is only available for the Bristol area, and we hope to expand to other areas)
- ABOUT SELF-HARM: Check out what self-harm is, why people self-harm, and how to spot the warning signs
- SELF-HELP: Learn how to identify your needs, manage the urge to self-harm and use safer alternatives
- SUPPORT: Find out about how to get support, where to go for further help, and what to say
- CHILL ZONE: Discover new resources that may help you feel better when you're struggling or feeling tense, including art, books, films, music, poems, quotes, stories and online videos
- EMERGENCY: Know what to do in an emergency, how to access help and how best to work together with health professionals
You can also give us anonymous feedback from within the app if you would like to help us improve it further.
Who's behind this app?
Expert Self Care Ltd (the app's developer) is a UK Social Enterprise led by practising medical doctors. We're certified through the NHS England Information Standard as a producer of reliable health information.
Partner organisations involved in developing this app include:
- Bristol Health Partners 'Improving Care in Self-Harm' Health Integration Team
- Self-Injury Support
- Self-Injury Self Help
- University of Bristol
- University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
- Buzz Consulting
- Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
- Connecting With People
- Innovating Minds
- The Students' Union at University of West of England Mental Health Campaign
Customisation and local information
We are happy to consider customising the app for other local areas and providing links to local support pages (see screenshots below) at the request of local authorities, health commissioners and universities. Please contact us for details.
Find out how the app was covered in the media: