What is the distrACT?
The distrACT app gives people who self-harm and may feel suicidal easy and discreet access to information, advice and support - all in one single place, even when offline.
How does the app benefit users?
The app is a mobile resource for young people to turn to and offers:
- easy access to information and support at times of crisis
- customised local pages listing appropriate sources of help
- useful advice for managing difficult feelings
- a 'Chill Zone' with tips for inspiration and relaxation - and to make users feel they're not alone
- reliable support before or in between appointments with health or other professionals
What does customisation look like?
Customising the distrACT app for local areas means that we provide a page with links to local support.
Currently only the Bristol and Exeter areas are included. We plan to add other UK areas in the future.
We were 'highly commended' for our work on the distrACT app in 2018 for the National #NHS70 Award by Healthwatch England:
The app has also been 'Highly Commended' for the 2019 British Medical Association Patient Information Award (awards will be announced on 10 Sep 2019).
What can users find on the app?
Open the app and access relevant, reassuring and reliable information, tips and advice:
- Local support: Find links and up-to-date details of available local support
- About self-harm: Learn about self-harm myths, facts, reasons, dangers, feelings and warning signs
- Self-help: Learn to manage the urge, find out about safer alternatives and develop long-term strategies
- Support: Know where to get help, discover ways to express your feelings to family and health professionals and find reassurance about common concerns
- Chill zone: From art, books, films and music to poems, quotes, stories and videos - get plenty of inspiration and resources to help you manage tough times
- Emergency: Learn about first aid, what to expect when attending A&E and what to do when you feel suicidal
How can the app benefit the NHS?
The app also aims to improve important health outcomes and save precious NHS resources:
- Improve reach - distrACT is a ready-made and free-to-download resource that's easy to download and get into the hands of people
- Optimise service use - reduce avoidable A&E and GP (re-)attendances by signposting to appropriate alternative services
- Improve clinical outcomes - the app aims to reduce harmful consequences of self-harm and the number of suicides
The distrACT app has been assessed by NHS Digital and is listed on the NHS Apps Library. The app can also be added to the new EMIS Apps Library and so become part of GP social prescribing.
How safe and secure is the app?
The app has been developed by practising NHS health professionals and experts in self-harm support in line with our robust editorial standards.
It has also been independently assessed:
- Assessed by NHS Digital and listed on the NHS Apps Library
- Certified by the NHS Information Standard
- Reviewed by the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Applications (ORCHA) and named among their 'Top 3 Apps' in January 2019. Read the review.
Feedback and testimonials
"I'm blown away, it's brilliant. Thank you for helping restore my faith back into human kindness with this non-judgemental app."
User feedback via twitter (direct message)
"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)
"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
"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
Who has developed the app?
The app has been developed by a team of UK health professionals together with:
- people with lived experience of self-harm
- experts in self-harm and suicide prevention
- local and national self-harm and suicide prevention charities
Partners in developing the app included:
- Bristol Health Partners 'Improving Care in Self-Harm' Health Integration Team
- Self-Injury Support
- 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