Case studies

Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Self Harm Service (SHS)

This multi-award winning service aims to improve the care, services and quality of experiences for people who self-harm as well as attitudes towards them. Following consultation and involvement with service users, carers and staff, it was clear that a non-medical model; a holistic and person-centred approach was desired. The service has responded to the gaps identified with a range of innovative developments, underpinned by the principles and values of the Recovery Model.  For example, various gender-specific services open to in and outpatients (self-referral is also possible) are being provided, for example, a women only peer-support group, women only swim sessions and single gender creative writing groups.

The swim group provides a closed, safe environment for women who, due to previous experience and issues of self-confidence regarding their appearance following self-harm feel unable to use public facilities. Self-Harm Link Nurses facilitate and swim with the group to ensure access to professional support if necessary. This has resulted in improved physical and mental wellbeing for those attending, such as increased self-confidence and ability to socialise. Staff have also gained a better understanding of how the women feel about themselves, how their symptoms impact on their lives and the challenges they face psychologically and socially.

Men and women only creative writing groups are open to people over the age of 18 with lived experience of self-harm.  These are small groups facilitated by an experienced creative writer.  They encourage thinking about and using different forms of writing.

Service users have found it an empowering experience to have control over their treatment and in contributing to sessions. The services delivered as part of the Self-Harm Service are reliant on volunteers and collaborative/reciprocal arrangements with local organisations.

Updated April 2015

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