A CONFIDENTIAL self-harm helpline, which was launched in Gloucestershire in 2009 by the national charity Rethink Mental Illness, is to extend its opening hours and will offer daily support from today.

The Gloucestershire Self-Harm Helpline, which until last month offered its services four days a week, will now open daily.

The service, funded by NHS Gloucestershire, has helped over 5,500 people since 2009.

People can contact the helpline by telephone, text or online.

Staff at the helpline offer emotional support and information for people that self-harm.

The charity also provides information for families and friends of people who self-harm, as well as to professionals interested in the issue such as teachers.

Emma Johnsey from Rethink Mental Illness Gloucestershire says: “It’s important that we offer support every day of the year, including bank holidays when we know people are more likely to be in crisis.

“People who self-harm usually do this as a way of dealing with difficult feelings or overwhelming experiences. At Rethink Mental Illness we help them by giving them emotional support and also by talking about alternatives to self-harm. Our aim is to help people understand how to deal with the feelings that trigger self-harm.”

The service is open daily from 5:00 to 10:00pm.

Anyone living in Gloucestershire can contact the helpline on 0808 801 0606, text on 07537 410022 or get online support at www.rethink.org/glosselfharm

Calls to the helpline from landlines and most mobile networks are free with calls not showing up on the bill.

Text messages are charged at the network provider’s normal rate.