Self harm strategy and action plan 2023 to 2027

Scotland's first dedicated self-harm strategy and action plan aims for anyone affected by self-harm, to receive compassionate support, without fear of stigma or discrimination. It is jointly owned by Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

A Message from People with Lived and Living Experience of Self-Harm

You can’t change the journey we have experienced up until the point you meet us, but in that moment, you can offer kindness, understanding, and connection, in a way we might not have experienced before. It’s indescribable, being able to break, openly, vulnerably, in a situation where you believed you absolutely could not let anyone know you were struggling, where you couldn’t imagine being able to tolerate the distress. But with the right support, you can.

Everyone has a different journey, a different understanding of self-harm and what self- harm is to them. So this strategy will mean something different for all of us. For some, it’s about being supported to stay safe, or to find other ways to cope when we feel like we’re out of options. It’s about being heard and understood. Finding community, and feeling less alone; knowing that help is there whatever we’re going through, and that our pain doesn’t have to be physical to be real or important.

However, when we are met with compassion and care, in a safe space, without stigma or judgement; when we are offered support, enabling us to make changes for ourselves, knowing that support isn’t too hard to access and we won’t be sent away, then everyone has the same chance to discover a new journey and learn a way forward that works for them.

We need you to be open, to be dynamic, to offer diversity in the types of support available to match our diversity of needs and make sure no one gets left behind. We need high quality professional help, alongside peer support and understanding. We need you to listen to us, the way you have done in creating this strategy. We need your dedication to translating these words into meaningful actions.

It won’t be easy. You will have to work at it, with a combination of kindness and stubbornness. We are complex and you will have to battle again and again, against all odds, to understand things you can’t understand, to resource things that can’t be resourced, to change opinions, reactions, to sit with us as we work through it all. It will take strong, committed leadership, and a willingness to stay on this path.

It will be worth it though, to create a legacy, and not leave so many people hidden for so long.

From people lived and living experience of self-harm who participated in the Strategy Design Group.



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