New phone app supports people with suicidal thoughts

8th September 2020

Instant online help is now available for people in Dorset who are struggling to cope and may be contemplating suicide.

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday (10 September), Dorset HealthCare is promoting distrACT – a new NHS phone app which gives easy, quick and discreet access to proven coping strategies and advice about self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

The free app, which has been developed by doctors and mental health specialists, also signposts users to the wide range of support available locally.

Gifty Markey, Head of Nursing, Therapies & Quality for Mental Health & Learning Disabilities at Dorset HealthCare, said:

“We’d like to encourage local people to download the app to find out more and also use it to signpost others. Just search distrACT on your phone’s app store and select Dorset under the settings button – our services are here for you and your loved ones.

“The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is all about working together. Please also take notice of your friends, family and colleagues, and how they are feeling – you never know what might be going on under the surface. By just taking a minute to ask how they are, you could really change their life.”

The distrACT app, which has won a British Medical Journal award for ‘best digital innovation in healthcare’, has been successfully rolled out in Bristol. Now Dorset HealthCare has provided funding to help make it available locally.

As well as coping strategies, the app offers practical self-help guides and a ‘chill zone’ with ideas on how to focus on more positive thoughts. There is also information about local support for people in crisis – in person, online or via the 24/7 Connection helpline on 0300 123 5440.

Health professionals and local people who have used distrACT have said:

·         “Great app with extremely useful information.”

·         “Very well laid out and I really love the chill zone section.”

·         “This app is well thought out and structured. It’s a must if you are concerned about self-harm or feeling suicidal and don’t know what to do next.”

Download distrACT to find out more, or read further information on the NHS website.

You can also visit the Trust's Access Mental Health page for further information about support available in Dorset.

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