Working with children and adults who may be at risk of self harm: practice guidance

This guidance is focussed on issues of confidentiality, information sharing and protection and is for people working with children and adults where there is a concern about self-harm.



Responding to Self-harm, Scottish Government, 2011,

Children and Young People Involved in Serious Incidents of Self-harm, Practice Guidance. Child protection Committee, Glasgow October 2006;

Suicide Prevention for Looked after Children and Young People, Practice Guide, SCSWIS, June 2011;

Carers and Confidentiality, Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, June 2006;

Working with Independent Advocates, Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, February 2009; and confidentiality.pdf

Joint Multi-Agency Guidance: Children and Young People at Risk of Self Harm and:

A Guide to Implementing Getting it Right for Every Child: Messages from pathfinders and learning partners, June 2010
(A full set of resources, whether a child/young person, parent/carer or practitioner, is available at

Self-harm: The Short-Term Physical and Psychological Management and Secondary Prevention of Self-harm in Primary and Secondary Care. National Clinical Practice Guideline Number 16, commissioned by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence 2004.

Self-harm: Longer term Management, NICE Guideline, Draft for consultation, April 2011.

Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (includes links to related guidance).

National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010. Scottish Government Publication, December 2010.

Mental Health, Incapacity and the Law in Scotland. Hilary Patrick, Tottel Publishing, 2006.
(Not found online).


These are examples of relevant resources to support people at risk of self-harm or suicide, or people caring for them - these are for the reader to select - we do not specifically recommend individual resources. : Samaritans offer 24-hour support for people in distress or despair, including those feeling suicidal. They have branches all over the UK and most branches are able to offer services via telephone (08457 90 90 90), email ( ), letter and face to face.

Breathing Space - a free, confidential telephone advice and signposting service - 0800 83 85 87 - for people who are feeling down or stressed. The related website has a number of sections, including ‘Your Mood’, ‘Your Problems’, ‘Self-help Toolkit’ and a section if you are concerned about someone. There is a very extensive ‘Links’ section that contains details of many organisations. : a national strategy and action plan to prevent suicide in Scotland. The website contains information about suicide, for those that are feeling suicidal and for those bereaved by suicide. There is an extensive ‘Links’ section that covers a number of areas relevant to mental health. : Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland is a registered charity which offers free bereavement care and support to people who have experienced the loss of someone close. : Action on Depression is the national charity for people with depression in Scotland. : This is a self-help website (run by Action on Depression) which provides advice and access to other resources. : LifeLink provides free support and advice to people in crisis, who self harm and are at risk of suicide in the North Glasgow area. : Scottish anti-bullying charity provides training, information, advice and other resources to help tackle bullying. : the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) provides local community support services offering practical and emotional support, social activities, advice on employment and education and help with personal care and health issues. SAMH has published a valuable guide: After a Suicide, which can be accessed via : mental health information site with priority areas, news and research information. It contains a section ‘Useful Contacts’ that provides details should you need immediate help and a Directory (A-Z) of organisations and agencies throughout Scotland. : this is a free online life skills resource. It aims to help users change the ways in which they think, and to respond in new ways to the challenges faced in life. Please note: the website is not an appropriate substitute to seeing a practitioner if you feel very distressed or are actively suicidal. : the website of the Mental Health Foundation outlines the charity’s work in research, policy, service development and service user involvement. The site offers information and publications to download on research, good practice in services and on mental health problems and key issues. It provides a daily mental health news service and directories of organisations, websites and events. Website visitors can use forums and bulletin boards, join a mailing list and find out how to support the organisation. : Scotland’s National Strategy for survivors of childhood abuse. SurvivorScotland, developed by the Scottish Government, aims to raise awareness of childhood abuse and its long-term consequences, improve services and enhance the health and wellbeing of survivors. The website includes a wide range of useful information as well as agencies for people to contact. : the In Care Survivors Service Scotland, a partnership led by Open Secret, is a support service for adults who suffered childhood abuse in care - and for their families. It is a team of specialists offering help specifically for survivors of historic in-care abuse under a national framework of advocacy, mediation and counselling services including (1) a hub of locally based development workers able to link up with services across Scotland to offer survivors and their families support, advocacy and confidential counselling; (2) a national confidential telephone support line - 0800 121 6027 - providing support, guidance and advocacy to those who suffered abuse and to their families; and (3) help for survivors to access the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme and support to pursue other legal issues (for example support to attend court)

Childline Call 0800 1111 or talk online

Seasons for Growth Seasons for Growth is a loss and grief education programme catering for young people aged 6-18 years.


Email: Janet Megoran

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