Self harm strategy and action plan 2023 to 2027: easy read

Easy read version of Scotland's self-harm strategy and action plan (easy read version) which aims to provide kindness and understanding to anyone dealing with self-harm in any way, without being judged or treated badly.

Self-Harm Action Plan : Easy Read Version

What is self-harm?

Self-harm is when a person deliberately injures or poisons themselves. The harm can be physical or mental.

This plan is for anyone who is affected by any kind of self-harm.

Self-harm is not a mental health condition or illness. It is a behaviour that can be caused by poor mental health.

People self-harm for lots of different reasons. Some people do it to cope with difficult feelings. Some people do it because they feel bad about their life or things that have happened to them.

Who is most at risk of self-harm?

Self-harm can affect anyone, from any background, any gender, and any age. 1 in 10 adults in Scotland said they had self-harmed.

Some people are more at risk of poor mental health and self-harm because of difficult things they are coping with. Including unfair treatment because of their age, race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.

People with serious and long-lasting mental illness are also at greater risk of self-harm. People who self-harm have often had bad experiences in their lives.

People who self-harm can be treated unfairly when they ask for help. Many people told us they hid their self-harm because they were afraid of what other people might think. This can make them less likely to ask for help.

Our vision - how we want things to be

Our vision is for people who have self-harmed or are thinking of self-harm, to be treated with kindness and understanding. They should get the support they need without being judged or treated badly.

Message from people with lived experience of self-harm

  • Everyone has a different experience and understanding of self-harm, and different needs.
  • People want to be listened to and given support with kindness and care and without judgement.
  • For this to happen we need people to change how they think about self-harm and how they treat someone who has self-harmed

Who can help?

Many different people and services can help, and everyone has a part to play.

Help can come from a family member or friend.

Help can come from teachers, youth workers, social workers, or from people working for charities. This can be in the community and online.

Healthcare support can come from GPs, Accident & Emergency, and mental health services.

Scottish Government and COSLA Self-Harm Action Plan

We have a 3 year action plan to support people who self-harm.

The plan will focus on three main areas:

1. Help people to understand self-harm and think about it in a kind and caring way.

Give training to communities, services, healthcare settings, schools and families, to support people who self-harm.

Share information about support services for people who self-harm, and those that care for them.

2. Make sure services are helpful to people who self-harm.

Help people to share information and learning about self-harm. This will help anyone affected by self-harm, including people who care for someone who self-harms.

Make it easier for staff to get the information and training they need. This will help them support people who self-harm and each other.

3. Get information about self-harm and use this to give better support.

We will find out what we need to know about self-harm and how to support people. We will also find out what makes it difficult for someone to get help for self-harm and make access easier for everyone.

To deliver this action plan we will:

  • Involve people with lived experience of self-harm.
  • Use facts and evidence.
  • Focus on groups that are at higher risk of self-harm.
  • Think about the needs of children and young people and people from all communities, including minority groups.
  • Show what difference we are making.

We will report on what progress we have made in 18 months, and again in three years.

The Scottish Government will keep funding self-harm support services delivered by Self-harm Network Scotland for the next two years. This will make sure that support is available to anyone aged 12 and over in Scotland.

Self-harm support that is available now

Self-harm Network Scotland

A website that offers support and information to people thinking about self-harm.


Breathing Space

Phone: 0800 83 85 87


The 111 Mental Health Hub

Phone: 111



Phone: 116 123


Children 1st – Parentline

Phone: 08000 28 22 33



Text: 85258


LGBT Health and Wellbeing

Phone: 0800 464 7000



Scottish Autism Advice Line

Phone: 01259 222022





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